How To Prepare For and Survive a Tornado

Roughly 1,200 tornados tear through the United States every year, and they can strike in any area of the country. Their swirling winds can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour and carve devastating paths of more than one mile wide and 50 miles long. Please make sure your family is ready in case a tornado strikes. Here are tips on how to prepare for and survive a tornado.


Tornado Watch Vs. Warning

 You need to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A “tornado watch” means conditions are ripe for this kind of storm and you should remain alert in case one forms. A “tornado warning” means a one has touched down or will soon and you should get your family to safety.


Prepare for a Tornado

Before a tornado watch is ever issued, make sure your family knows where to go in case one threatens your home. Tell them to seek shelter in a basement or storm cellar if you have one or in a windowless room located at the center of your house’s ground floor.

Never seek shelter in a mobile home. If you live in one, find another structure nearby where you can stay safe.

Also, make sure you have an emergency kit handy. It should include items such as food, water, flashlights, medications, sanitation and personal items, copies of personal documents, emergency blankets, and more. See a full list here


Stay Safe When a Tornado Occurs

 If a tornado threatens your home, head to your designated safe spot and take shelter under a heavy table. Cover your family with blankets or rugs to help protect them from flying debris.

If you’re away from home, find shelter in a basement, interior corridor, tunnel, underground parking lot, or subway. However, you should stay away from bridges and highway overpasses.

If you’re driving, get out of your vehicle and lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. Avoid poles and power lines.


Stay Cautious Once a Tornado has Passed

 When the winds have died and the storm is over, you still need to be careful. Stay out of affected buildings and watch for fallen power lines and broken glass. Finally, take pictures of your damaged home and possessions for insurance purposes.

If you would like to know more about preparing for tornados, check out these resources:

Red Cross Tornado Preparedness

FEMA Tornado Preparedness

NSC Tornado Preparedness