Forget The Wizard of Oz notion that "twisters" only happen in Kansas. Tornados have been reported in every state. While they typically occur during spring and summer, tornadoes can happen anytime during the year. With winds swirling at 200 miles per hour or more, a tornado can destroy just about anything in its path. Generally, there are weather signs and warnings that will alert you to take precautions. The more you and your family are prepared, the better chances you have of surviving a devastating storm.

Printable Tornado Home Preparedness Guide

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Know the difference between a Tornado Watch and Tornado Warning 

  • Tornado Watch: Atmospheric conditions are suitable for a tornado. When a tornado watch has been issued for your area, review your tornado shelter plan and ensure your emergency supplies are easily accessible especially an emergency radio and flashlight in case power should go out.  Keep an eye on changes in the weather and stay tuned to your local broadcast.  Tornado watch areas usually encompass entire counties or even states.      
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been detected by radar or sighted by an observer in your area.  Take shelter immediately and follow your tornado safety plan.   

Buy a survival kit and store along with:

  • Essential medication
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Written instructions on how to turn off your home's utilities

Conduct periodic tornado drills, so everyone remembers what to do when a tornado is approaching.

Stay tuned for storm warnings:

  • Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information or tune your emergency radio to the NOAA weatherband alert channels. 

Be alert to changing weather conditions:

Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you.  Many people report     tornadoes sound like a freight train.  When you hear a tornado warning being issued on the radio or television, take shelter immediately.  Do not go outside!

When a tornado WARNING is issued:

  • If you are inside, go to the safe place you identified to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects.
  • If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.
  • If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above).

After the tornado passes:

  • Watch out for fallen power lines and do not venture into the damaged area.
  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
  • Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage (avoid using candles or matches)

Create A Home Tornado Plan

Click to Download Printable Guide

Plan and get ready: Pick a safety spot in your home where family members could gather during a tornado. (If you have a basement, make it your safety spot.) Make sure there are no windows or glass doors in the area. Keep this place uncluttered. If you live in a mobile home, choose another safety spot in a sturdy, nearby building.

Basement:       Yes        No

If yes, the basement is your safety spot. If no (or if you're in a high-rise building), choose another safety spot.

Location of safety spot:                                                                   

Put together a tornado Safety Kit in a clearly labeled, easy-to-grab box.

Location of Tornado Safety Kit: _______________________

Write instructions on how and when to turn off your utilities - electricity, gas, and water.

Instructions written:______________________(date)

Make sure all family members know the name of the county or parish where you live or are traveling, since tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by the county or parish.

Name of county/parish where you live: _______________________
Name of county/parish where you are traveling: ________________

And remember - when an earthquake, hurricane, fire, flood, or other emergency happens in your community, self-sufficiency is key to survival.  Help might not be immediately available following a wide-spread disaster leaving you and your family exposed to the elements.  Buy a Tornado Survival Kit.