Preparing for Tornadoes


  • Get a NOAA Weather Radio with warning alarm tone and battery backup to get information directly from the National Weather Service.   This is the quickest way to learn that a tornado is heading your way.  Many models are available.
  • Know what tornado watch and tornado warning mean. 
  • Determine in advance where you will take cover in case of a tornado warning.  Keep this safe location uncluttered.
  • Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
  • If underground shelter is not available, go into a windowless interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.  Go to the center of the room.  Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor.  Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
  • A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection.  Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
  • Get a kit of emergency supplies.  Store it in your shelter location.
  • Practice tornado drills at least once a year



  • When a tornado watch is issued, stay tuned to local radio, TV and NOAA weather radio for further information and possible warnings.  Be prepared to take cover.
  • When a tornado warning is issued, take cover in your safe location immediately or on the lowest level of the nearest substantial building.  Protect your body from flying debris with a heavy blanket, pillows, sofa cushions or mattress.
  • If you can’t get to your safe location or the lowest level of a substantial building:
  • Open buildings (shopping mall, gym or civic center):  Try to get into a restroom or interior hallway.  If there is no time, get up against something that will support or deflect falling debris.  Protect your head by covering it with your arms.
  • Cars and trucks: Get out of your vehicle and try to find shelter inside a sturdy building.  A culvert or ditch can provide shelter if a substantial building is not nearby.  Lie down flat and cover your head with your hands.  Do not get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Outdoors.  Try to find shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building.  If no buildings are close, lie down flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.
  • Mobile homes:Do not stay in mobile homes.  Leave immediately and seek shelter inside a nearby sturdy building, or lie down in a ditch away from your home, covering your head with your hands.  Mobile homes are extremely unsafe during tornadoes.
  • Stay in your safe location until the danger has passed.



  • Stay out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines
  • Help injured or trapped people.  Check on those who might need special assistance, such the elderly, children and people with disabilities.