Tornado Safety Tips

Be sure you understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
A tornado watch gives you advance notice that tornadoes are possible in your location. This gives you time to make preliminary plans for moving to a safe shelter quickly if a tornado has been detected and warns you to take immediate safety precautions.

When a warning is issued, move quickly. Seconds can save your life.

If there is a tornado and you are caught in the open
Lie down in a depression like a ditch or a culvert. Lie flat and make as small a target as possible. If you can, wrap a covering around exposed portions of your body. Even small ground debris can cause serious injury when driven by tornado strength winds. The National Weather Service advises you to memorize basic tornado safety rules. Your life may depend on it.

If you live in a mobile home
Be sure you have a plan of safe action if the weather becomes threatening. The size and construction of mobile homes make them particularly vulnerable to overturning and rolling in high winds. Some protection may be provided against this hazard by securing them with cables anchored in concrete footings. But for safety's sake, when high winds are imminent, mobile homes should be evacuated. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, don't take chances. Leave your mobile home and move to a sturdy permanent shelter. If no such shelter is available, lie flat in a ditch or depression in the ground. Act quickly. Your life may depend on it.

In a home
Y
our best haven from tornado winds is a basement. If possible, get under a sturdy table or work bench. If no basement is available, take cover in an interior closet, hallway, or bathroom on the lowest floor of the home. An empty bath tub with a mattress or blanket for cover makes a good emergency refuge. Be sure to stay clear of any flying glass and get to a place of safety before the tornado strikes.

Be ready for tornado emergencies. Schools, office buildings, and factories should have a well-rehearsed plan of action. The National Weather Service recommends taking shelter on the lowest floor available. This includes interior spaces such as hallways, restrooms, or closets. Auditoriums and areas with windows should be avoided. In last-minute situations, a desk may serve as a shelter. If there is a radio available, keep it turned on.



Return to News Archive

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.