11 Tornado Preparedness Tips

1. Make sure you have insurance that covers tornado damage.
This is the time to get to make sure your policy will cover what you need it to cover in the case of a tornado.  I've been into an area struck by a tornado in Alabama and I've seen the extreme damage.  Please make sure you don't take for granted just how powerful these storms are, and the damage they can do to your home.

2. Run drills.
It's always better to practice your plan before the event of an emergency so that when the time comes you know exactly what to do, and exactly where to go. Don't assume you will automatically do the right thing.  Practice make perfect.

3. Pick the lowest place in your house.
Basements are great, but if you don't have a basement, choose an interior doorway or hallway. The lower you are, the more likely you are to be safe.

Tornado Preparedness Checklist

4. Cover your head.
Protecting your head is extremely important other area's of the body can sustain injuries that are not life threatening.  But your head needs extra protection.  Use a pillow or get underneath a mattress or other furniture.

5. Stay away from windows and other glass.
Remember that when you are in a tornado, the power of the wind can blow all kinds of debris.  Glass can kill you very quickly.  Stay away from fish tanks or any other glass items in your home.

6. Keep a wrench near the gas meter and be sure you know how to turn off the gas.
Gas leaks can have a devastating affect on in the situation.  Homes can literally blow up.  The time to turn off the gas is before the storm hits.  Make sure you understand how to take care of this.


7. Store a grab n go survival kit
Make sure you have food, water, clothing, shelter and hygiene products stored in a easy to carry and go bag.  You will need at least enough for 3 days, but you may want to have more in your kit.

8. Stay inside, unless you are in your car.
Pull to the side of the road and get out of the car (get in a ditch of possible) You cannot out run a tornado.

9. Keep an Emergency Radio.
A good Emergency Radio that is solar or dynamo powered can get you the information you need before and after a Tornado has struck.  Make sure you have one.

10. Sirens.
Don't wait until you hear the sirens to take cover. Many times, the sirens don't ring until it's too late.

11. Mobile Homes.
If you live in a mobile home, leave it and go somewhere else when there is a tornado watch. It is a myth that open windows will lessen the effects of a tornado. It is best to keep them closed.

17 thoughts on “11 Tornado Preparedness Tips”

  • wilma J OConnor
    wilma J OConnor May 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Thank You so much for the helpful hints.

  • dave klein

    bolt your foundation to the frame!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • John

    Keep abreast of the weather. Sometimes the sirens don't mean what they seem to. For example, they may go off for a whole county, but the tornado only affects one part of the county. That doesn't mean it won't impact your part of the county, but it's important not to become unduly alarmed. Have a weather radio with an alarm alert programmed for where you are. If you have a local media outlet that offers an alert service by cell phone, subscribe to it.

  • bill dean

    dave, foundation bolts are great, Hacklesburg, AL F5 tornado defeated foundation bolts, but F5's are rare - we've only had two so far this year.

    lessons learned from FireMedic standpoint.

    Add more duct tape to your trauma bag

    Wear your ID badges

    Stay focused, Let someone else worry about the Big Picture

    My son sez he is going to beat me if I drive my truck out over the pastures with the barbed wire fences and TVA lines down. (two flat tires)

    In the event and aftermath / recovery, NGO's will come out of the woodwork with bottled water and food. I don't eat food that I do not know the age or storage conditions.
    Stay hydrated. Powdered Gatorade (G2) is available in most grocery stores. SpaghettiO's are great, served with canned Tropical Fruit Salad. Linen table cloths are optional.

    Beautiful weather after the storm. Sunblock, pay attention to those next to you digging thru the remains of their brother's used-to-be-a-home. Make sure they are hydrated,

    Add a "snivel Kit" to your trauma bag: topical antibiotics, adhesive bandages, analgesics, chapstick (tell them it's great for hemmoroids)

  • figmo

    You left out the last step. As the tornado approaches, place your head between your knees to avoid fainting. Kiss your ass goodby!

  • Karen

    I have lived in Tornado Alley all of my life and there are things on here that I haven't even thought of (turn the gas off BEFORE the storm hits)! Having said that, I think it should also be said that if you have an EF4 or EF5 coming toward you, you need to be UNDERGROUND! Your chances of surviving underground in a shelter are far greater than being in your home. If you do not have an underground shelter, and only IF you have time, get in your vehicle and drive AWAY from the storm!

    I was in and survived the May 3, 1999 EF5 that hit Oklahoma. We knew about the tornado 45 minutes to one hour BEFORE it hit. We had plenty of time to prepare. Unfortunately, you don't always have the luxury of having such an advanced notice. Always, always, always be mindful and respectful of the weather, especially if you are under a tornado watch; that simply cannot be overstated. Keep your own tabs on the weather using the internet. Do not rely on JUST the local weather person to keep you informed. You can get "on demand" information, rather than waiting for the local news channel or radio station to interrupt programming.

  • Richard

    Make sure you have a whistle in your shelter in case you are buried and need help. Wear safety goggles, sturdy shoes and work gloves to prevent lacerations and bruising during the event and recovery. If you turn off the gas leave it up to the gas company to turn it back on.

  • Mitch

    You may consider Prayer.

  • LeeAnn

    If you do not have access to a tornado shelter, it is important that you are not only in the lowest part of your home, but that you are in the strongest part. An interior bathroom or closet backing to a bathroom is better because the plumbing in the walls (except the newer PEX) gives added strength to that part of the home.

    Have crates in which to place your pets, keep an extrqa leash in the crate, and be certain to have food for your pets in your emergency bug-out-bag.

    There are some great weather apps. available for smartphones that give you lists of warnings and radar to see if the storms are approaching your location.

  • Eileen Petersen
    Eileen Petersen May 2, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Thank you. I have printed these tips out to put in our 72-hour kit, along with adding sunblock, topical antibiotics, adhesive bandages, analgesics, as mentioned in the replies. We already had the whistles, duct tape and chapstick, along with the normal 72-hr-kit items.

  • Alyce Heidt

    Great information!! Don't forget your personal medications....and pets (& pet meds). I like the idea of personal identification badges!! Also, if you don't have duct tape on hand...the tear tape is great for immediate use! I take it with me everywhere I go (especially on trips). It comes in handy and I've always had a reason to use it!!

  • Sharon

    The tips are great! Thanks to everyone -- one more thing -- if you don't have an ID badge -- Sharpie marker on duct tape will work well too. Stick a couple of the markers in your kit along with a couple of student composition books -- you will need something to write with and on if everything gets blown to bits. The composition books are usually about $1 and easily available from the dollar stores to WalMart or Target -- I've even seen them in the bigger grocery stores. Down here in Houston we get more tornadoes than most people think, and while they are not the EF4 or 5 ones, even an EF1 can do a lot of damage if you sustain a direct hit.

  • Linda

    all these people that have answered here, live and know about survival, those of you that live a comfortable life need to know that disaster can strike at any time especial in the times that we are living. Take for example Japan, and others most recent disasters, they didn't know that there homes could be lost to them in an instant. Don't ever think that your exempt. Right know we are under a cloud of radio activity from the fall out from Japan. We have not been advised of this from our Government. What to do how to protect ourselves. This cloud of radio activity affects Alaska, The Yukon, all of B.C. Canada the hole western coastal line of the U.S. This is only the beginning it will not get better so do what ever is in your power know to protect your family's now.

  • Curtis

    One main thing people need to be made aware of and keep in mind is THE EMERGENCY SIRENS (CIVIL DEFENSE) ARE DESIGNED TO WARN PEOPLE THAT ARE OUTSIDE, NOT PEOPLE THAT ARE IN HOMES, ETC. If you can hear them from inside your home great, your ahead of the game! Your best bet for getting current / up to date weather information are the new weather alert radios.

  • Ron

    Thank you for the tips. Hopefully we won't have to use these.

  • Wayne

    Having assisted with the search and rescue for the Greensburg,Kansas F5 tornado that obliterated that town, let me assure you that you are never completely safe when the #$*# hits the fan. I saw basements so full of debris that the only way we found some people were with the K9 units. Granted something is better than nothing. I suggest you absolutely cover your head and stay close to an interior solid (concrete ) wall. A whistle or signal device with loud sound is essential. I know many people had emergency kits but had no idea where they ended up, once the demolition of the tornado started. Above all, if you are not hurt seriously, be patient, stay calm, and listen for rescue people who WILL come for you.

  • Poppie Dave in MO
    Poppie Dave in MO May 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    A tornado doesn't usually appear totally unexpected. You will see them form in a "Tornado Watch" zone, usually predicted several HOURS before a tornado develops. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable (ie an approaching cold front running into an unusually unstable area of high humidity and temperature) for the development of tornados, and could be a large area covering many counties and adjoining states, and lasting for several hours.

    When a watch is issued, you may want to take that time to make your plans BEFORE an actual tornado develops. Call your family and friends and know their locations or places to meet. Gather your emergency supplies and keep them close at hand during this time. Make plans to take care of your pets or have them with you. Look around for suitable places to shelter yourself or your family wherever you are. If there are no safe places nearby, go find one or at least make plans to get to one while you still can safely. But it is not time to duck and cover YET. Remember, it may take several hours for a tornado to develop, but if you make your plans beforehand, you will at least be thinking about what you have to do.

    A tornado warning will only be issued after a tornado or funnel cloud has been spotted, either by a trained weather spotter or Dopplar radar, which will see the famous "Hook" echo caused by rotating wind currents. A warning may be very short in duration, as compared to a watch, and will be for a very small, specific area in the path of that particular storm. However, as we have seen in recent weeks across the country, many tornados may develop at different times and in different areas along the same storm front. Stay informed by weather radio or TV that is monitoring the situation. Dopplar radar is great for areas close to its site, but does diminish in accuracy at greater distances. The drawback comes by the fact that it is "line-of-sight". Because of the curvature of the earth, its echo return will be higher in a storm a long way away, thereby missing lower altitude developments. In that case, more reliance may be on trained weather spotters that know when to look for rotating cloud formations, and not mistake low-hanging clouds for actual funnels.

    Above all, please be safe, and stay Ready!

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