Tornadoes, like hurricanes, are violent and can cause widespread destruction and death. However, unlike hurricanes they are more localized, of much shorter duration and intensity (lasting only seconds or minutes as opposed to hours or even days) and can arise suddenly without any warning, thus making them difficult to anticipate or predict.
Tornadoes are most common in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest and typically occur during the warm weather months. However, they can occur anywhere at any time of year.
That is why being tornado-ready is so important. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area; stay tuned for developments and details. Be prepared to possibly seek shelter, preferably underground. A tornado warning means that a tornado is occurring or has been spotted in your area; take shelter immediately.
- Be aware of the likelihood of a tornado in your area. If you’re not sure, contact your local emergency management office, National Weather Service office or local American Red Cross chapter.
- Be familiar with the signs of an approaching tornado and know what a tornado funnel cloud looks like.
- Prepare a family disaster plan and assemble a disaster supply kit. The plan should designate areas of the house to seek safety.
- Conduct periodic tornado drills with your family.
- Keep tree limbs and bushes trimmed; remove dead branches.
- If a storm is coming or is underway, monitor media outlets for the latest developments and safety instructions.
In the event of a tornado:
- Pay attention to local radio broadcasts.
- Look for the warning signs of an approaching tornado: large hail, loud roar (like a freight train) and a dark sky.
- If you notice these signs, take shelter immediately. A basement or storm cellar are among the best places to go. If you cannot go underground, find an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Remain away from outside walls and corners, which attract debris.
- Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Do not open windows.
- Consider getting under a large piece of furniture, such as a table, and protect your head and neck.
- If you have enough advance warning and are not in a safe place (such as outdoors, in a vehicle, in a mobile home or trailer), quickly go to a structure with a firm foundation.