what to do DURING A TORNADO

Long-time residents of Texas know that severe weather is a part of life. California has earthquakes, the Mid-Atlantic has nor’easters, and the list goes on. The key to lowering the potential impacts from hazardous weather is to be prepared. For severe weather that means having a severe weather safety plan in advance of an event. A tornado bearing down is not a good time to make a safety/shelter plan. Being prepared means taking the time now to develop and practice your tornado safety plan while the weather is nice.

What’s it mean? Tornado Watch vs Tornado Warning

Tornado Safety
Tornado Watch

Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area.

Review and discuss your emergency plans. Check supplies and ensure your safe room is ready to go. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! 

The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states. A watch can be issued hours before thunderstorms impact your area.

Tornado Warning

A tornado has been visually sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Enact your tornado safety plan!

Don’t have a plan or know what to do? Keep scrolling down…

Where to go if a tornado is approaching

What to do in a tornado if you’re in a…

  • Move to the lowest floor.
  • Shelter in a small room with no windows. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible.
    • Examples: Bathroom, closet, under a stairwell.
  • Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands.
  • Cover yourself with protection or get under a sturdy object (mattress, blankets, etc).
  • Pants, long-sleeve shirts, sturdy shoes, and a helmet are recommended for personal protection.
    • Many tornado-related injuries are due to blunt force trauma to the head. A sturdy helmet can greatly improve protection to the head.

Tornado Safety

  • Move to the lowest floor if at all possible.
    • Tip: Get to know your neighbors. Invite those on floors above to shelter with you if you have a ground-floor unit.
  • Shelter in a small room with no windows , under an interior stairwell, or in a windowless interior hallway.
  • Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands.
  • Cover yourself with protection or get under a sturdy object (mattress, blankets, etc).
  • Pants, long-sleeve shirts, sturdy shoes, and a helmet are recommended for personal protection.
    • Many tornado-related injuries are due to blunt force trauma to the head. A sturdy helmet can greatly improve protection to the head.

Tornado Safety

Manufactured homes provide affordable, excellent housing. However, they are not suitable shelters for any tornado. Even the weakest tornadoes can destroy mobile homes. Stronger storms will obliterate mobile homes with the wreckage almost unrecognizable.

  • Find a suitable shelter well in advance of any potential severe weather threat.
    • A site-built, sturdy structure such as a gas station, residential home, commercial property, etc. Some areas have shelters. Know how long it will take you to reach this shelter.
  • Extra attention must be paid to weather forecasts. If severe weather is forecast plan on having to move to your designated shelter. Moving to your shelter may be needed well in advance of a storm if driving is required.
  • The last resort would be to take shelter in a ditch or low-lying area away from the trailer/mobile home. You would be better off taking shelter in a ditch outdoors than remaining in a mobile home. 
  • IF the tornado is visible, far away, and traffic is light you may be able to drive out of its path. Move at right angles of the tornado. Do not participate in risky driving behavior. This method is NOT viable in a city, town, or locations that are experiencing traffic.
  • Seek shelter in a sturdy building such as a gas station, rest stop, restaurant, hotel, etc.
  • IF you’re caught by extreme winds or flying debris…
    • Exit traffic lanes and park the car as quickly and safely as possible. You have two options and neither are particularly good.
      1. Stay in the vehicle with your seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands. Use a blanket, coat, cushion, or other items if possible.
      2. If you can get noticeably lower than the level of the road, leave your car and lie in that area.
  • Bridges are DEATH TRAPS. Do NOT seek shelter under bridges under any circumstance! Winds are accelerated under bridges and they typically collect debris. There are documented instances of gruesome injuries and fatalities due to blunt force trauma from debris while taking shelter under bridges. 
Tornado Safety