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Tornados
Get a Kit Have a Plan Be Informed

Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival. Be prepared to act quickly. Keep in mind that while tornadoes are more common in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, they can occur in any state and at any time of the year, making advance preparation vitally important.

Prepare for a Tornado

  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a tornado hazard.
    • A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area. You should monitor NOAA Weather Radio local radio and television news outlets for the latest developments.
    • A tornado warning is when a tornado is actually occurring, take shelter immediately.
  • Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.
    • Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
    • If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
    • A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
    • If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
    • Plan to stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
  • Get a kit of emergency supplies. Store it in your shelter location.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.

Plan to Take Shelter

  • If local authorities issue a tornado warning or if you see a funnel cloud. Take shelter immediately.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.

Stay Informed

  • After a tornado be sure to remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines.
  • Help injured or trapped people. Check on others who may require special assistance, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
For more information on tornado risk areas and details on how to identify the safest place in your home to take shelter see "Are you Ready?" from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. or Disaster Safety from the Red Cross.