In the aftermath of a tornado
If you end up in the path of a tornado, the experience can be traumatizing, no matter how well you prepared ahead of time. Try to stay as calm as possible and follow these tornado safety and recovery tips as you pick up the pieces.
Immediately after a tornado
- The safety of you and your family is the most urgent need after a tornado. Check everyone for injuries and call for medical help immediately if needed.
- Watch for additional emergency alerts on your phone, or stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio or a local alert system for current information and instructions.
- If you’re trapped, cover your mouth with a cloth or mask to avoid breathing dust. And instead of shouting, try to send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle.
- Stay clear of fallen power lines or broken utility lines, and warn others to stay clear too.
- Report downed power lines or broken gas lines immediately.
- If you’re driving and see a downed power line in your path, stay in your vehicle and call 911 or the electric utility.
- Power outages are common after a tornado. Save your phone battery for emergencies and to let family and friends know you are safe. Use battery-powered lanterns instead of candles.
- If you haven’t lost power but smell something burning, see frayed or sparking wires, or suspect a gas leak, turn off the main circuit breaker and the natural gas and propane tanks.
Assessing tornado damage
- Don’t enter damaged buildings until you are told they are safe.
- Use extreme caution around debris and watch for broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Wear appropriate clothing, like sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves, and gloves.
- Inspect your home or apartment for any signs of structure issues.
- Follow all proper power outage tips and generator safety tips.
- Take pictures of your home’s damage, inside and out.
- Tornado damage is generally covered under homeowners and renters insurance policies. Contact your insurance agent or your company to start your claims process.
Cleaning up and moving forward
As you work to get back to a sense a normalcy, the American Red Cross has good information on how to clean up after a tornado. And as you rebuild, consider a safe room, roofs that are rated for impact and/or wind resistance, and other ways to protect your home for additional safety in the future.