Severe Weather Safety: Tornado Safety


Tornado Safety | American Red Cross

So now that we know the basics of what a tornado is, how do we know what a tornado basically is, but what can we do to stay safe in case of a tornado?

According to the Texas Tech University report on Annual Disaster/Death Statistics Report for US Storms, “Annually tornadoes cause an average of 1,500 injuries.” On the same report, “On average, 80 deaths each year are directly attributed to the 1000 tornadoes reported.” There are ways to prevent deaths from tornadoes including those from tornadoes using safety measures and making sure that people have safety plans in place.

FEMA says, “Approximately 10,000 lives are saved each year due to shelters and emergency plans.” Did you know that 36% of Americans DO NOT have an emergency preparedness plan?

Here are some tips to help you create an emergency preparedness plan according to the American Red Cross.

One. Identify a safe place in your home where household members and pets will gather during a tornado: a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. (American Red Cross)

Depending on where you live, there are some things that you can do to help keep you and your family safe.

In a high-rise building, pick a hallway in the center of the building. You may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. In a mobile home, choose a safe place in a nearby sturdy building. If your mobile home park has a designated shelter, make it your safe place. No mobile home, however it is configured, is safe in a tornado. (American Red Cross)

Another thing to do is to keep watch in case of a watch or warning being issued, after all there is a difference, according to the American Red Cross:

A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible.

A tornado WARNING means a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon. GO TO YOUR SAFE PLACE IMMEDIATELY.

For some things to do before the storm, according to the American Red Cross:

  1. Assembling an emergency preparedness kit.
  2. Creating a household evacuation plan that includes your pets.
  3. Staying informed about your community’s risk and response plans.
  4. Educating your family on how to use the Safe and Well website.
  5. Download the FREE American Red Cross Emergency App.


There are numerous things that you can do before the storm, according to the American Red Cross such as with preparing with your family:

Talk about tornadoes with your family so that everyone knows where to go if a tornado warning is issued. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, especially for younger children.

Check at your workplace and your children’s schools and day care centers to learn about their tornado emergency plans. Every building has different safe places.

Ensure that every member of your family carries a Safe and Well wallet card.

Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts, either through streaming an online NOAA radio station, downloading a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store or Google Play, or purchasing a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio in the Red Cross Store

Check emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply. especially medications or other medical supplies. Keep it nearby.

Consider having your safe place reinforced for better protection. FEMA’s plans to do so can be found at:

There are other things that should be considered as well, according to the American Red Cross, such as to protect your pet and animals make sure you have a preparedness plan for them.

There are numerous things that you can do to also keep your home safe. Some of those things, which can also be found on the American Red Cross website are as follows:


Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a storm.

Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased or damaged limbs, then strategically remove branches so that wind can blow through. Strong winds frequently break weak limbs and hurl them at great speed, causing damage or injury when they hit.

Remove any debris or loose items in your yard. Branches and firewood may become missiles in strong winds.

Consider installing permanent shutters to cover windows. Shutters can be closed quickly and provide the safest protection for windows.

Strengthen garage doors. Garage doors are often damaged or destroyed by flying debris, allowing strong winds to enter. As winds apply pressure to the walls, the roof can be lifted off, and the rest of the house can easily follow.

Once the word gets out about the tornado then there are some things that you can do to remain safe.

Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.

Move to an underground shelter, basement or safe room. If none is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.

Remember: no area of a mobile home is safe during a tornado. If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, go there immediately, using your seat belt if driving, according to the American Red Cross.

 Find a local emergency shelter and know the best routes to get there if you need to.

After you do that than do these steps as mentioned by the American Red Cross:

Watch for tornado danger signs: dark, often greenish clouds – a phenomenon caused by hail; wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm; cloud of debris.

Move or secure any of the items on your list of items to bring inside or anything else that can be picked up by the wind.

Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them.

During the tornado make sure that you are safe! If you are outdoors, then follow these steps as mentioned by the American Red Cross.

Seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.

If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. Remember to buckle your seat belt.

 Stay away from bridge/highway overpasses.

If strong winds and flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park, keeping your seat belt on and engine running. Put your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket.


Finally after the tornado then at least do these things according to the American Red Cross.

Let friends and family know you’re safe. – Register yourself as safe on the Safe and Well website.

If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.

Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.

Check for injuries. If you are trained, provide first aid to persons in need until emergency responders arrive.

For more tips on what to do after a Tornado check it out under the Tornado tips page on the American Red Cross website, and for a checklist of what to do during the tornado then keep scrolling. Stay safe this spring and be prepared as severe storm season starts to roll in.

Tornado Safety Checklist–English


Tornado Safety Checklist–Spanish


Author: Courtney Swessinger

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