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Preparing Your Home and Family for a Tornado

When it comes to tornadoes, there’s no substitute for advanced planning. During peak tornado season—between May and August—storms that produce tornadoes can develop quickly, so it’s important for you and your family to know exactly what to do before, during and after a twister strikes.

Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms and watch for the following danger signs:

  • Dark, often greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud—particularly if rotating
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.

If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately. It is best to create a family tornado plan that identifies where you’ll seek shelter when a tornado warning is given and where you’ll meet after the disaster. Practice your family’s tornado plan at least once per year.

In the event of a tornado warning:

  • Gather items that can protect you such as mattresses, sleeping bags and thick blankets and place them near your shelter area.
  • Gather bottled water, non-perishable food items, flashlights and a battery-operated radio.
  • Keep an ear to the radio or television and listen for storm updates/warnings. Remember that a tornado can occur before there is a visible funnel cloud. During a tornado watch or warning, seek shelter immediately, even if the sky looks clear. 
  • Go to the basement or lowest level of your home, get under a sturdy structure and cover yourself with protective materials (ideally under a heavy desk or next to the wall).
  • If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway, away from windows. Other options include seeking shelter in a bathtub or under a bed or couch. 
  • Crouch down to the floor face down and cover your head with your hands. Don’t leave your safe space until local authorities say it is safe to do so. 
  • If you live in a mobile home, leave your house and seek other shelter. In the absence of a safe shelter, lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your arms and hands.
  • Do not leave your safe space until local authorities say it is safe to do so. 

After a tornado passes, avoid downed power lines and other debris. Be sure to stay with your loved ones at all times. Stay away from power lines and puddles near fallen wires since they may still be carrying electricity. Do not enter heavily damaged homes or buildings that could collapse at any time, and watch your step for broken glass, nails and other sharp objects that may have flown around.