Home > Tips/Resources > Fact Sheet Library > Fact Sheets: Safety How-Tos
Printer Friendly Version

While tornadoes commonly take place in the Midwest during the spring and summer, they have been reported in every state and they can happen at any time. A tornado may contain 200 mile an hour swirling winds and has the ability to destroy nearly everything in its path.

What you can do to prepare:
  • Create a Family Emergency Plan
    • Designate a place where the entire family should gather if a tornado is headed your way. The best place is usually the basement. If there is no basement, choose a center hallway, a bathroom or a closet on the lowest floor. If you live in a high-rise building, you may not have time to go to the lowest floor so pick a second place such as a hallway in the center of the building. In any case, make sure this location is clutter free.
    • Conduct planned and surprise tornado drills. This will help everyone remember what to do if and when a tornado is approaching.
  • Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit
    • first aid kit and basic medications
    • battery-powered flashlight and radio
    • extra batteries
    • canned food and a can opener
    • bottled water
    • work gloves and sturdy shoes
    • written instructions on how to turn off your home's utilities
  • Understand Tornado Watches and Warnings
    Tornado watches and warnings are issued by your county.
    • A tornado WATCH indicates the possibility of a tornado in your area.
    • A tornado WARNING occurs when a tornado has been spotted and may be headed towards you. You should immediately get to safety.
  • Stay Tuned for Storm Information
    • Listen to your local TV and radio stations for up-to-date storm information.
During a tornado watch:
  • Be Alert to Changes in Weather Conditions
    • Flying debris or the sound of an approaching tornado (many compare this to the sound of a freight train) may indicate that a tornado is near.
  • Stay Tuned to Local TV and Radio Stations for Further Updates During a Tornado Warning
    • IF YOU ARE INSIDE: Go to your designated meeting place on the lowest level of the building.
    • IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE: Hurry to the lowest level of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.
    • IF YOU ARE IN A MOBILE HOME: Get out immediately and head for the nearest shelter.
    • IF YOU ARE IN A MOTOR VEHICLE: Do not try to outrun the storm - get out of the vehicle and seek shelter in a safe structure or lie down in a low area.
After a tornado passes:
  • Inspect Your Home for Damage
  • Watch for Fallen Power Lines
  • Listen to the Radio for Further Instructions and Information

American Red Cross