A tornado is a violent rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. One of the most powerful forces of nature, a tornado can have rotating winds of up to 250 miles per hour and can occur at any time of year. The damage path of a tornado can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.
While watching the weather, listen for:
- Tornado Watch
- Tornado Warning
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning
- Warning is in effect
Before a tornado:
- Develop a plan for yourself and your family for home, work, school and when outdoors, and practice with quarterly drills.
- Keep a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and a battery backup to receive warnings as part of your emergency supply kit.
- Listen to radio and television for weather information.
During the tornado:
- Move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement. Use cushions, pillows or if time permits, a mattress to cover yourself to prevent injury from flying debris.
- In a high-rise, go to the lowest level possible. Interior halls or stairwells offer the most protection. Get into a crouched position and cover your head (with your hands if you have nothing else).
- Do not use elevators during a tornado.
- If no underground shelter is available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.
- Stay away from windows and do not open them.
- Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car. Instead, seek shelter in a ditch or depression with your head covered.
- If you live in a mobile home, seek shelter elsewhere nearby.
After a tornado:
- Before traveling, check to make sure roads are open.
- Help neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, seniors, and people with disabilities.
- Help injured or trapped persons. Administer first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
- Watch for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report to 911.
- Avoid disaster areas. Your presence might hamper rescue and other emergency operations and put you at further risk from the residual effects of tornadoes.
- If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe.
- When entering damaged buildings, use extreme caution. Moving through debris presents further hazards. Carefully watch every step you take. Only enter if you must.
- Wear sturdy shoes.
- Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings. Battery-powered lighting is the safest and reduces fire hazard.
- Examine walls, floors, doors, staircases, and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
- Look for fire hazards. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, or other flammable liquids immediately.
- Check for gas leaks.
For additional information:
- FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)