Tornadoes can strike suddenly – with little to no warning in some cases and only minutes to take shelter. During these few crucial moments, they have the ability to destroy homes and devastate communities. We’ve covered everything you need to know about tornado safety – from warning signs and shelter tips to talking with your kids. So, when a tornado strikes, you’ll be prepared.
Tornado Warning Signs and What to Watch Out For
Tornado season usually happens from early spring until early summer, but they can happen at any time. There are a few signs to let you know a tornado is near. They all might not appear together before the tornado hits. Here are a few warnings to watch out for:
- Heavy hail
- Dark wall clouds – most come with dust or debris
- Strong wind gusts – some look like funnels, but don’t have to
- Winds suddenly die down
- Sudden loud roars
Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning
You should also pay close attention to weather alerts from your local news or radio station. You may also get a smartphone alert for your area. Many report both tornado watches and warnings. Here’s the difference:
- Watch: The weather conditions lean towards a possible tornado. Keep a close eye out.
- Warning: There’s been a tornado nearby that could be heading your way. Listen closely and be prepared to seek shelter at any moment.
If you notice signs that a tornado is coming, don’t wait to seek shelter right away. Tornadoes can land in a matter of seconds. Don’t spend time closing windows and doors, or wrapping up plans. Find a safe place and wait until it’s over.
Tornado Safety Tips
Every second matters when a tornado is approaching. As soon as you notice a warning sign seek shelter immediately. Tornado damage is unpredictable. Here’s what you should do:
- Go to the lowest level of your home possible. For many, this is the basement or the first level of the house.
- For your safety, avoid rooms with windows. Aim for rooms with only walls such as bathrooms or closets.
- Find a heavyweight, sturdy object in your home to stay under during the tornado. For many, it’s a table or bed.
- Crouch low and cover yourself from potential damage. Use a helmet, pillow or anything else nearby to protect yourself from flying objects.
- If you’re outdoors when a tornado strikes find a ditch, safe shelter or stay in your car as a last resort.
Safe Tornado Shelters
Here are a few possible places to hide safely during a tornado. Keep in mind your home’s structure – some of these places might not be deemed safe. Remember to avoid rooms with windows and stay away from doors if possible.
- Under a stairwell
- Storm shelter
Keeping Kids Safe During Tornadoes
It’s important to talk to your kids about tornado safety and what to do before one lands – just as you would with hurricane or fire safety.
- Show kids the signs of a tornado so they know what to watch out for.
- Practice a tornado drill every month so everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency. And, make sure they know the safe place indoors and outdoors.
- Teach them the safe spaces to go and areas to avoid. Be sure to designate one room inside the home for them in case there’s a tornado.
- Talk to your children about how tornadoes make them feel so you understand their emotions. Try to ease their concerns and show them ways to stay.