A tornado can be a hazardous event. This type of severe weather can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time and often lead to fatalities. That’s why it’s so important to prepare for a tornado.
This tornado preparedness checklist will help you prepare for the potential dangers if a tornado strikes. Go over this list carefully, and take the necessary steps to keep yourself and your loved ones safe by updating your tornado emergency plans.
The Safest Place to Be During a Tornado
The safest place to be during a tornado is in the basement of your home or a storm cellar. If you don’t have a basement, your safe room should be an interior room on the lowest floor of your home. Make sure that you avoid windows and doors, as they can be very dangerous during a tornado. Stock your safest room with mattresses and heavy blankets to protect you from debris.
If you live in a mobile home, you should leave and go to the nearest sturdy building. If there is no sturdy building nearby, you should try to find a ditch or low-lying area to take cover.
If you are outdoors when a tornado hits, lie down and flat on the lowest ground around. It’s also important to avoid bridges or underpasses during a tornado as they can easily collapse during high winds.
Emergency Items You Should Have On Hand During a Tornado
Here are a few tornado emergency kit items that you should have on hand:
- Water bottles. Fill them up and keep them in your tornado shelter room.
- Food rations. Keep non-perishable food items such as protein bars, canned fruit, nuts, and granola bars in your tornado shelter room to eat if the tornado knocks out electricity.
- First aid kit. Make sure you keep a tornado first aid kit with medical supplies in your tornado shelter room to treat any injuries that occur during the tornado or in its aftermath.
- Flashlights and extra batteries. You’ll want to have flashlights on hand so that you can see if the power goes out due to severe weather conditions or tornado damage.
- Battery-powered radio to access NOAA weather radio. The radio will be your primary source of information during tornado season, so make sure to have extra batteries handy as well.
- A three-day supply of medications and other essential items such as diapers, formula, baby food, etc., if anyone in your household needs them. Make sure not to forget pet food!
- Cash and coins. You may not be able to use your debit or credit cards in the event of tornado damage, so make sure you have some money on hand just in case.
More Tornado Preparedness Tips
Make a written inventory of your personal belongings and keep it in a safe place. This document will help you file an insurance claim quickly and easily if a tornado damages your home.
Meet with your insurance agent to discuss tornado coverage. Many homeowner policies do not cover tornado damage, so make sure you prepare for this by getting tornado insurance ahead of time.
Get trained in tornado safety, first aid, and CPR by enrolling yourself or your family members into a tornado preparedness course offered by the Red Cross or other similar organizations.
Ensure that you know how to turn off utilities like electricity, gas, and water if necessary. These can be damaged during tornado season as well.
Clear debris from around your home before a tornado hits. Knowing how to turn off utilities will help minimize damage to your home and property in the event of a tornado.
Know When a Tornado is Coming
Learn how to identify potential tornadoes. Tornadoes can look like a swirling funnel, or they may appear to be a dark spot in the sky. Other times they are just black clouds with lightning and thunderstorms.
Know your local tornado warning systems, tornado sirens, and how you will receive alerts when severe weather is imminent, whether through text message, radio broadcast, or television alert system. This way, you will take tornado safety precautions as soon as a tornado warning is issued.
Take tornado watches seriously, and know that a tornado warning means that a tornado is actually on the ground and headed in your direction.
What to Do After a Tornado Passes
Administer first-aid to those who were injured due to the severe weather. Check on your neighbors to see if they need help, but do not enter any structure that appears to be unsafe.
Turn on the radio or television to check the weather forecast and to confirm that the danger has passed and for updates, and listen for additional tornado sirens.
Take photos and videos of tornado damage in your area so that you can submit an insurance claim.
When entering your home after a tornado, be aware of any structural damage that may have occurred and do not use any appliances or light switches until they have been checked by a professional.
FAQs About Tornadoes
What causes tornadoes?
A tornado is a whirling column of air that moves around in a circle. Many different factors can cause tornadoes, but one thing they all have in common is strong winds which cause them to form. They form as hot and cold air meet at the surface, causing the current to swirl into itself, creating what we know today as tornado weather patterns.
How much damage can a tornado do?
A tornado can cause a lot of damage to homes and businesses. Tornadoes are often strong enough to lift off roofs, overturn cars, pull down power lines, and destroy trees in their path. They also create extensive debris fields that will be difficult for crews working on recovery efforts afterward. They are often deadly.
How long do tornadoes last?
Tornadoes usually last between three and five minutes, but they can last as long as 30 minutes. During tornado season in the spring months, they are most common when warm moist air collides with cool and dry conditions to form tornadoes.
Where should I go during a tornado if I do not have a basement?
If you do not have a basement, the safest place to seek shelter is in an interior room on the lowest floor of your home. Do not take shelter under large objects such as trees or power lines that could fall during tornado weather patterns; instead, go into small rooms like bathrooms where no windows and doors can be closed tightly shut.
What should I do if my tornado shelter is not safe?
If your tornado shelter is unsafe, you may want to consider seeking temporary housing at another location. Try contacting friends or family members who live in a tornado-safe area; they might be willing to offer their home as a refuge during the storm. Alternatively, look into emergency shelters run by your local government or the American Red Cross. These shelters will be equipped to handle tornado weather conditions and ensure your safety.