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Tornado/Thunderstorm Safety

Preparing for a tornado:

  • Have emergency supplies on hand, including a battery-operated radio, a flashlight and a supply of fresh batteries.

  • Know the location of designated shelter areas in public facilities, such as schools, shopping centers and other public buildings.

  • Make an inventory of household furnishings and other possessions. Supplement it with photographs of each room. Keep in a safe place.

  • Plan ahead. Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do in case of a tornado warning.  

What to do when thunderstorms approach:

  • Follow the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule. Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder. Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles from any rainfall!

  • Move to a sturdy building.

  • If too far from shelter, find a low spot away from trees, fences and poles, but not in a place subject to flooding. If you are boating or swimming, get to land and shelter immediately.

  • If you feel your skin tingle or hair stand on end, lightning may be about to strike. Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Minimize contact with the ground.

  • Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances not necessary for receiving weather information. Use telephones only in an emergency. 

What to do when a tornado threatens:

  • Get into a shelter, preferably a permanent structure, in the basement or lowest floor.

  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Protect your head with a pillow, blankets, or even a mattress.

  • In homes and small buildings, go to the basement and get under something sturdy.  If no basement is available, go to an interior part of home of the lowest level. A good rule of thumb is to put many walls between you and the tornado as possible.

  • In schools, hospitals and public places, move to designated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floors are best.

  • Mobile homes and vehicles offer virtually no shelter. Leave them and go to the nearest shelter. If there is no shelter nearby, the best alternative is to lie in the nearest ditch and shield your head with your arms. 

After a tornado:

  • Inspect your property. Including motor vehicles for damage. Check for electrical problems and gas leaks and report them to the utility company at once.

  • Watch out for fallen power lines. Stay out of damaged buildings until you are sure they are safe and will not collapse. Secure your property from further damage or theft.

  • Use only approved or chlorinated supplies of drinking water. Check food supplies.

Anytime:

  • Listen for NOAA Weather Radio, or local radio, television and cable stations for the latest weather updates. To insure a continuous flow of weather information, make sure the NOAA Weather Radio, or another radio or television has a battery back up.

  • For NOAA Weather Radio information, including a station near you, see the NOAA Weather Radio page on the Internet at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/brochures.shtml. The National Weather Service, American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency produce these publications.