Tornado Tips: How to Be Prepared

April 11, 2023

It’s important to be prepared and know what to do in the event of a tornado. Know the warning signs and how to protect yourself.

Tornado Shelter directional street sign with backdrop of dark and cloudy skies

This time of year, the trees are budding, flowers are starting to grow, and the skies begin to fill with ominous storms. Late spring and early summer are the most active time for tornadoes.

While most tornadoes occur in “Tornado Alley,” in the central part of the United States, tornadoes can occur (and have occurred) in all 50 states. In fact, there are about 1,200 tornadoes each year in the U.S.

While tornadoes can be deadly, there are many things that you can do to protect yourself and your family. Having an emergency plan, knowing when a tornado has been sighted, and seeking shelter are all ways you can be prepared.

Create an Emergency Plan

Have an emergency plan to protect yourself and members of your household during a tornado. An emergency plan is essential if you live where tornadoes are common, but remember, a tornado can happen anywhere.

Know Where to Take Shelter

The safest place to take shelter during a tornado is in a basement or a windowless space in the middle of the structure on the lowest floor. If you live in a mobile home, know a building near your home where you can seek shelter during a tornado. If there are no buildings nearby where you can go, consider building a tornado shelter for your home.

Create An Emergency Supply Kit

Keep an emergency supply kit in your house in case of a tornado. Below are some items that you should keep on hand:

  • 1 Gallon of water per person per day for 3 days
  • Non-perishable food
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Radio with batteries
  • Toilet paper
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Sleeping bag and warm blanket

See the National Weather Service website for a complete list.

Teach Your Children How to Stay Safe in a Tornado

Teach your children about tornado safety to reduce feelings of panic and help ensure an orderly response in the event of a tornado. Teach your children what a tornado is, how to know when a tornado watch or warning is in effect in your area, and how to shelter at home and school.

Know the Signs and Warnings

One way to protect yourself is to be familiar with the signs and warnings that can signal a tornado.

What’s a Tornado Watch?

A tornado watch is a signal broadcast through local warning systems and the media to indicate the conditions are suitable for a tornado. During a tornado watch, it’s important to pay attention to the radio and television (to stay attuned to the weather conditions) and take shelter if necessary.

What’s a Tornado Warning?

A tornado warning is a signal that a tornado has been spotted in an area. During a tornado warning, taking shelter in a designated area is critical.

Know Your Local Alerts

Local alerts about tornadoes vary. Many places have an outdoor warning system to notify residents that it’s time to take shelter. Know the warning systems in your area and pay attention to alerts during storms or when an alarm is sounded.

Signs of a Tornado

While paying attention to your local alerts, it’s also essential to know the signs of a tornado.

  • Funnel-shaped cloud
  • Large, dark, low-lying cloud or cloud of debris
  • Dark sky or green-colored sky
  • Roaring noise
  • Large hail

Protect Yourself With Homeowners Insurance

An up-to-date homeowners insurance policy is one of the best ways to protect your property in the event of a tornado or other natural disaster. Call your agent today.