Before a Tornado

When the weather begins to look stormy, turn to a local radio or television station for the weather report. If a tornado "watch" is issued, that means one is possible. If a "warning" is issued, that means a tornado has been spotted, or is strongly indicated by radar. It's time to take shelter.

Nature has its own warning system. It never hurts to pay attention. Here are some indications that severe weather is imminent or here:

  • A sickly green or greenish-black cast in the clouds
  • Pets or livestock getting agitated
  • Hail
  • A strange quiet within a storm
  • Rotating clouds or clouds that converge in one area of the sky
  • A rushing sound that turns into a roar
  • Tree branches or fallen leaves being pulled upward
  • A funnel-shaped cloud that is rotating

It's best to go to the basement or a windowless interior room. Store essential supplies there, in advance. At minimum, your shelter area should include blankets, a flashlight and batteries, a whistle, a first-aid kit and a battery-powered radio.

Conduct a tornado drill with your family every year to help everyone remember what to do and where to go. Practice will reduce panic when it's the real thing

During a Tornado

  • In Homes or Small Buildings: Go to the basement (if available) or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom. Upper floors are unsafe. If there is no time to a lower floor, go to a closet, a small room with strong walls, or an inside hallway. Wrap yourself in overcoats or blankets to protect yourself from flying debris.
  • In Schools, Hospitals, Factories, or Shopping Centers: Go to interior rooms and halls on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums and warehouses. Crouch down and cover your head. Don't take shelter in halls that open to the south or the west. Centrally-located stairwells are good shelter.
  • In High-Rise Buildings: Go to interior small rooms or halls. Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas.
  • In Cars or Mobile Homes: Abandon them immediately! Most deaths occur in cars and mobile homes. If you are in either of those locations, leave them and go to a substantial structure or designated tornado shelter.
  • If No Suitable Structure Is Nearby: Lie flat in the nearest ditch or depression and use your hands to cover your head. Be alert for flash floods.

After a Tornado

Listen to the radio or TV for information about the extent of the damage and where to go for help in your area.