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Tornado Preparedness

To be ready for a tornado, you need to have your ‘ready kit’ with you at all times and know what to do before, during, and after a tornado.

How To Prepare For A Tornado

Step 1: Plan

Developing a plan before a tornado hits can help you protect your property, family, and yourself. For example, if there is an emergency situation and you need to evacuate quickly and leave belongings behind, follow the exit plan in this article.

A new plan includes compiling contact info and important documents into one easy-to-find space.

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Record contact information for:

  • Family members – personal cell phones
  • Schools
  • Workplaces
  • Utility companies
  • Babysitters
  • Any other family & friends contact details

By recording these conversations, you can always talk to your friends, family members, & other important people.

Important documents: You should also have copies of:

  • Birth certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Social security cards
  • Photos of your property

These documents should be prepared before a tornado hits so you can easily evacuate from the area if necessary. It’s also good to have multiple evacuation plans to ensure you can leave no matter which direction is blocked.

Step 2: Build an emergency kit

The second thing you should do before a tornado hits is to pack an emergency kit, as it will come in handy if your power or other utility services are interrupted, you’re injured or trapped. Make sure the emergency kit includes:

  • Enough food & water for at least 3 days/person
  • First aid supplies
  • Communication device other than phone (such as a radio)
  • Flashlights
  • Spare clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Batteries
  • Medications
  • Maps of the local area

The number of supplies you need to buy depends on the size of your family. At the same time, you should also consider any special circumstances or additions in your family, such as infants or pets that require additional attention. When you are preparing for an emergency situation, take into account all of these factors and plan accordingly.

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Step 3: Find shelter areas

One way to prepare for a tornado is by identifying or building a safe place in your home to take shelter. Your shelter should:

  • Be on the lowest floor
  • Stay close to the center of the building
  • Have no windows
  • Contain your emergency kit

In many areas, basements are a popular shelter option. If you don’t have a basement available, an interior bathroom or closet also works as both are centrally located and tend to be good places to set up lighting so you can see your way around.

One of the most important things to do before a tornado is hit is to identify potential safe buildings or shelters that may pop up in any area. These could include offices, schools, or town halls.

If you’re looking to install a safe room in your home, FEMA has specific requirements and guidelines to follow. You can find more info on FEMA’s Safe Room FAQ page.

The Signs of a Tornado

To identify the signs of a tornado, you need to know what they are.

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You can spot a tornado by:

  1. A tornado is a cloud that forms below the storm and touches down onto the earth. A rotating, funnel-shaped storm clouds coming down to the ground is an obvious sign of a tornado, but it doesn’t always form.
  2. Dark green skies. When tornadoes happen, they’re often accompanied by hail. The light reflecting off the hail can turn the sky green as it rages out of control.
  3. Debris. If a tornado is about to hit you, you might not see the funnel. Instead, look out for a cloud of debris at ground level.
  4. A roaring sound. The sound of a tornado is similar to that of a train. The crashing sounds of debris can be quite noisy.

Tornados are unpredictable in length, but most have a lifespan of fewer than 10 minutes.

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