Proper Actions to Take Before, During and After a Tornado

Before a tornado strikes

  • Know the locations of shelter areas in facilities, such as schools, public buildings and shopping centers.
  • Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do in case of a tornado warning.
  • If you live in a single-family house, reinforce an interior room to use as a shelter – the basement, storm cellar or closet on the lower level of your home.
  • Inventory your household furnishings and other possessions. Supplement with photographs. Keep inventories and photos in a safe deposit box or some other safe place away from the premises.

During a tornado watch

  • Listen to radio and television newscasts for the latest information and instructions.
  • Watch the horizon. If you see revolving funnel-shaped clouds, take cover immediately. Remember that tornadoes can develop rapidly.

During a tornado

  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Protect your head from falling objects or flying debris. Take cover immediately.
  • In a house or small building, go to the basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to an interior part of the structure on the lower level. Seek shelter under something sturdy such as a heavy table and stay there until the danger has passed.
  • In a school, nursing home, hospital, factory or shopping center, go to pre-designated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually safest. Stay away from windows and open spaces.
  • In a high-rise building, seek shelter in an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • In a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to a more substantial structure.
  • If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine or culvert with hands shielding your head.
  • Never attempt to flee from a tornado in a car or vehicle. They are no match for the swift, erratic movement of these storms.

After a tornado

  • Use great caution when entering a building damaged by high winds. When entering or clearing a tornado-damaged building, be sure that walls, ceiling and roof are in place and that the structure rests firmly on the foundation.
  • Watch for broken glass and downed power lines.
  • Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, stabilize the neck and back, then call for help. If the victim is not breathing, but has good pupil reflex, carefully position the victim for artificial respiration, clear the airway and begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Maintain body temperature with blankets. Be sure the victim does not become overheated.
  • Never try to feed liquids to an unconscious person.