Tornado Safety

Tornadoes can happen at any time of the year and at any time during the day or night. Though more common in the afternoon and evening hours, tornadoes can happen and have been reported at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning!

Many people think a tornado is always visible, but there are times, in storms which have high amounts of precipitation, it can be completely wrapped in rain, making it indistinguishable from surrounding clouds. Contrary to what some may believe, tornadoes can and do cross rivers, mountains, and big cities. For these reasons, it is very important to have a plan of action in case of a tornado.

What do I do when a tornado is approaching or a Tornado Warning has been issued?

  • SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY! Once in shelter, take the protection position.

Where do I go?

  • Reinforced shelters - A basement or underground shelter is the best option. Protect your head and eyes from deadly flying debris. If no basement is available, go to the interior part of the lowest floor - such as a bathroom or closet. If possible get under something sturdy like a bench or table.

Stay away from windows!

What should I do if I am located in...

  • Mobile Homes - Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to overturning and destruction from strong winds and tornadoes. Tie-downs generally will not protect a mobile home from tornadoes. If possible, leave the mobile home and go to a community shelter. If none is available, a ditch, culvert, or other low lying area may offer better protection. Have a plan of action prepared before a storm hits.
  • Schools - Follow plans made in advance to go to a basement or an interior hallway on the lowest floor. Restrooms in the middle of buildings can also offer some shelter from flying debris. Avoid the end of any hallway that opens to the outside as well as classrooms with windows or outside walls. Stay out of auditoriums, gymnasiums, or any other structure with wide free-span roofs, as these types of structures are quite vulnerable to tornadic winds. Do NOT board or stay on school buses during a tornado warning! School buildings offer more protection and safety.
  • Office buildings, hotels, and shopping malls - Go to a basement, designated shelter, or to the center of the building on the lowest level. Never stay in the upper levels of buildings, they are unsafe. Always stay inside of the building, do not seek shelter inside of cars in the parking lot. Avoid large open rooms and windows, remember buildings with large free-span roofs are vulnerable to tornadic winds. Occupants should leave these areas and move to smaller interior areas.
  • Automobiles and other vehicles - Abandon your vehicle and seek cover in a basement, shelter, or sturdy building. As a last resort, if no shelter is available, lie flat in a low lying area such as a ditch or culvert. Remember to protect your head by using your arms. Do NOT seek shelter under a bridge or overpass.
  • Open country - If possible and if time permits, seek shelter inside. If this is not possible, lie flat in the nearest low lying area such as a ditch or culvert. Remember to protect your head by using your arms.