RECOMMENDED ACTIONS FOR TORNADOES
BEFORE A TORNADO
Know the terms used to describe tornado threats:
Tornado Watch -- Tornadoes are possible. Watch the sky and listen to the
radio or television for more information. Be prepared to take shelter. If you see
any rotating funnel-shaped clouds, report them immediately by telephone to your
local law enforcement agency. If you live in a mobile home, this is the time to
move to a more substantial structure.
Tornado Warning -- A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather
radar. The storms may also produced damaging downburst winds in excess
of 60 mph and/or hail 1.00” or larger. Take shelter immediately. Turn on a
battery-operated radio or television and wait for updated information for your
It is critical that someone at home, work, or wherever people gather, monitors weather
conditions, regardless of the time of day! Many deadly tornadoes occur at night. Use a
weather alert radio, local TV and radio, or the Internet to monitor watches and warnings
for your area. Don’t rely completely on outdoor warning sirens – especially if you’re asleep!!
If you live in a mobile home, identify a safe shelter outside of your mobile home such as a
community park shelter, a neighbor or friend’s house, or a nearby public building. Half of all tornadofatalities occur in mobile homes – even though they only account for 7% of all residences.
Purchase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Alert Radio with a battery backup, a tone-alert feature, and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology
which automatically alerts you when a Watch or Warning is issued for your county.
Determine the best location in your home and office to seek shelter when threatened by a
tornado. A basement or cellar will usually afford the best protection. If an underground shelter
is not available, identify an interior room or hallway on the lowest level. Closets, small interior
hallways, and bathrooms without windows are the best areas.
Maintain a disaster supply kit. This kit will help your family cope during extended power outages in
the aftermath of a storm.
Conduct periodic tornado safety drills at home AND at work. Decide how and where
everyone will gather prior to, and after the storm.
Consider retrofitting your house with special fasteners, connectors and reinforcing bands to
strengthen the structural integrity. Also, consider installing a reinforced concrete and steel
“safe room” as a small room within your house, or excavated and installed in your yard, or
beneath your garage floor.
DURING A TORNADO
Take the following actions when a Tornado Warning has been issued by the National Weather
Service, when sirens have been activated, or when a tornado has been sighted near your area.
Go immediately to your predetermined shelter (storm cellar, basement or the lowest level of the
building). In a basement, go under the stairs, under a heavy piece of furniture or a work bench.
Stay there until the danger has passed.
If in a mobile home, get out and seek shelter elsewhere, well before the storm arrives. A
mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the
unit. If there isn’t a substantial shelter nearby, go to a low-lying area, and shield your head
with your hands.
If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a small inner room without windows, such
as a bathroom or closet. Outside windows and walls may be penetrated by high speed,
Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, such as a workbench or heavy table, and hold onto it.
Use pillows, mattresses or cushions to protect your head and neck.
IN A SCHOOL, NURSING HOME, HOSPITAL,
SHOPPING CENTER, OR WORKPLACE
Go to the designated storm shelter, basement, or to an inside hallway on the lowest level.
Avoid places with wide-span roofs, such as auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums and large
hallways. Stay away from windows and open spaces.
Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, such as a workbench, heavy table or desk, and hold
onto it. If sturdy furniture is not available, make yourself the smallest target possible.
Squat low to the ground. Put your head down and cover your head and neck with your hands.
If in a high-rise building, go to small, interior rooms or hallways on the lowest level possible
and seek protection as detailed above. Stay away from windows and outside walls.
If possible, get inside a substantial building, on the lowest floor – away from windows and
If an indoor shelter is not available, or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or culvert.
Use your arms to protect your head and neck. Stay aware of the potential for flash flooding.
IN A VEHICLE
Do NOT park under a bridge or overpass!
Safely get out of the vehicle immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.
Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. Heavy rain, hail and traffic may impede your
movement. Tornadoes can change directions quickly and can easily lift up a vehicle and toss
it through the air.
As a VERY last resort, if there isn’t time to get indoors – or if there is no secure shelter nearby, youhave one of two choices:
(1) get out of the vehicle and lie flat in a ditch, culvert, or low-lying areaaway from your vehicle OR (2) stay in the vehicle, with your seat belt fastened, and get as low as you can
below the level of the windows. Your choice should be determined by your specific circumstances. The key point is: these options are last resorts. Seeking shelter in a sturdy building is the preferred
method of staying safe in a tornado.
AFTER A TORNADO
Monitor the radio or television for emergency information or instructions.
Be extremely careful in areas of downed power lines or natural gas leaks. Wear
adequate footwear to avoid cuts from broken glass or nails protruding from boards.
Check for injured victims. Render first aid if necessary. Do not attempt to move severely injured
victims unless absolutely necessary. Wait for emergency medical assistance to arrive.
Check on neighbors or relatives who may require special assistance.
Exit damaged buildings. Re-enter only if absolutely necessary using great caution.
Take photos or video of the damage to your home and property, and report it to local
If unaffected by the tornado, stay out of the damaged area until local officials
allow entry. Your presence may hamper emergency operations.