Tornado safety: How to prepare
Don't wait for the sirens or the alert on your phone. Here's how to prepare now in case a tornado comes your way.
Preparing for a tornado
Tornadoes can be devastating, even sometimes claiming lives and causing injuries as they happen. There's not a lot you can do to prevent tornado damage to your home, but you can take steps to prevent injury to the people inside it.
Pick a tornado safe space
This should be a spot everyone can get to quickly. Or, consider a safe room for maximum protection.
- Home with a basement – The basement is often your safest bet, if it's not prone to flooding. Pick a space away from windows and under some kind of sturdy protection if possible, like a heavy table.
- Apartment building or home without a basement – Find a space away from windows on the lowest floor possible, like a small centered room, an interior hallway or under a stairwell.
- Mobile home – Find an underground shelter or sturdy permanent structure nearby.
Do a practice tornado drill with your family at least once a year. Don't forget to take your pets with you as you practice your plan. Make sure your family knows where to go during a tornado if they're not at home, and pick a local place to meet if you're separated during a tornado.
Create survival and first aid kits
Stow your kits in your safe space. Include things like non-perishable foods, bottled water, flashlight, batteries, phone chargers, first aid supplies and medicines. Keep heavy blankets or an old mattress in your space too, for added protection. Some necessities for your pet should include: dry food, medicine and toys.
Secure important documents
Use a fire box, safe or safety deposit box to store things like contact information for family and friends, insurance information, passports, birth certificates and marriage licenses.
Create a home inventory and schedule an insurance review
Tornado watch or warning
Educate your family on the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning, and know what to do during each. Make sure everyone knows how to spot a tornado too. Watch for a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud, an approaching cloud of debris or a loud roar that's similar to a freight train.
Use this tornado preparedness checklist to keep your plan on track. And when severe weather is on the way, tune in to your NOAA radio station or your local news for the latest updates. Learn more helpful information about tornado safety from ready.gov.