Tornado Preparation Tips
Back to Hazards Directory What to do before tornadoes threaten:
What to do during a tornado watch:
- Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others.
- Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.
- Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
- A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.
- Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm.
- It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
- Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, supermarkets or shopping malls.
- Be prepared to take shelter immediately.
What to do during a tornado warning:
- When a tornado has been sighted, take shelter immediately.
- Go to an interior room on the lower level (closets, interior hallways). Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use arms to protect head and neck. Stay there until the danger has passed.
- Get under a sturdy table and use arms to protect head and neck. Stay there until the danger has passed.
- Do not open windows.
- Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small, interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Get out of vehicles, trailers and mobile offices immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile offices, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
- If caught outside with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of potential for flooding.
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck; instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter. Tornadoes are erratic and move swiftly.
- Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
What to do after a tornado:
- Look out for broken glass and downed power lines.
- Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, first stabilize the neck and back, then call for help immediately.
- If the victim is not breathing, carefully position the victim for artificial respiration.
- Maintain body temperature with blankets. Be sure the victim does not become overheated.
- Never try to feed liquids to an unconscious person.
- Use caution when entering a damaged building. Be sure that walls, ceiling and roof are in place and that the structure rests firmly on the foundation. Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.