Tornado Warning Signs You Need to Know

Returning Home after a Natural Disaster

Returning home after a natural disaster can be both physically and mentally challenging. The most important thing is to use caution. You may be anxious to see your property but do not return to your home before the area is declared to be safe by local officials. Please see use the tips below when returning to your home:

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How to Prepare Your Kids for Tornadoes and Natural Disasters

image of sesame street charactersSpring is in the air and it’s a beautiful time of year - but this beauty comes at a price! Spring means the start of high storm season for most parts of the country. It is critical that families are prepared for dangerous weather. Teaching your kids basic tornado safety procedures will help reduce the chaos in the event of a tornado. 

The first thing children should know is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch simply means that conditions are favorable for a tornado and that you should be on the lookout. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted either by a storm spotter or by a weather radar.

In the event of a tornado warning, your kids need to know what to do. Be sure to openly communicate with your children what they should do and have the following items ready.

Emergency Kit

Your disaster supply kit should include water, snacks, blankets, medicines and a battery powered radio – just to name a few!

Emergency Contact List

You and your kids should work together to create a list of emergency contacts. Talk about the people and phone numbers that will be on the list. Be sure to include your cell numbers in case you are ever separated from your kids in an emergency situation.

Emergency Meeting Place

Discuss with your kids the place that you want to meet with them after a disaster strikes. This could be a mailbox, a neighbor's house or anywhere you think your child could easily get to. This is also helpful information in the event of fires or other disasters other than tornados. 

Talking with your children about tornados and other natural disasters is the best way to keep them safe. Make sure they know where to go during tornado warnings (the lowest level of your house away from all windows). They should also know where to find you or how to contact you in the event that you are separated. If a disaster does strike your family, it is important to help your kids cope with the devastation. Remember - knowledge is safety! 

You can also check out FEMA’s website as well.  Just search tornado safety for kids in the search bar and tons of helpful tips and advice will pop up.  

Why It's Important To be Prepared for Natural Disasters

image of yellow sign in a storm saying Are You Ready? for Tornado PreparednessA tornado can have winds up to an incredible 300 mph and have a path of up to 50 miles! They strike with little warning, so we cannot stress enough how important it is to prepare! Below we give you tips as to what to do before, during and after a tornado hits.

Know How to Spot a Tornado

Do you know your tornado warning signs? The first thing you should learn is how to identify a tornado and understand the following facts:

  • Can happen any time of year.
  • Can appear transparent until they pick up dust and debris.
  • Usually have the following warning signs:
  • Dark (sometimes greenish) sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud
  • A loud roar, similar to a freight train

Prepare Your Home & Family

There is not a house out there that can withstand a direct hit from a tornado, but shoring up your house can help it survive if it's in the tornado's path. Just as important is having a safe space for your family to hunker down during the tornado. This includes basements, outdoor underground shelters, safe rooms and garage shelters. Below are some tips you should use as an emergency preparedness guideline.

  • Make a plan. Make sure family members know what to do in case of a tornado, including designating an emergency meeting spot and deciding who takes charge of family pets.
  • Show adult and teen family members where electrical, gas and water shut-offs are located and how to turn them off. Make sure the proper tools are at the ready.

Have a well-stocked first aid kit, flashlights and plenty of batteries ready to go in your shelter (see our tornado shelter supply checklist here).

  • Install impact-resistant windows.
  • Make certain your doors have at least three hinges and a deadbolt lock with a bolt at least 1 inch long.
  • Install permanent wood or metal stiffeners on your garage door. Or contact the door manufacturer about temporary supports you can easily attach and remove.
  • Make sure your roof covering and sheathing beneath it can resist high winds.
  • Consider replacing gravel and rock landscaping with mulch or shredded bark, which can be less deadly in high winds.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery. Pay particular attention to weak or dead branches that could fall on your home.

What To Do Before Or During A Tornado

You should do the following if conditions are right for a tornado in your area:

  • Monitor local radio and television for a tornado announcement and instructions.
  • Turn off all utilities.
  • If it’s safe, move outdoor furniture and grills inside. They can be deadly flying debris.
  • Take shelter!
  • If you don’t have a storm shelter or basement, lean a mattress against the wall of the room you're in.
  • Don't open your windows. Keep the wind and rain outside.
  • Have flashlights ready to go.
  • If you’re in a mobile home, find shelter elsewhere.
  • If you’re in your vehicle, get out and head for a sturdy building. If one is not near, a ditch can provide shelter.
  • Don't take shelter under a bridge or overpass!

What To Do After A Tornado

If a tornado does take place, and you were forced to leave your home – or if it has been severely damaged from the tornado – wait for authorities to give the all-clear to re-enter. Then do the following:

  • Check for structural damage before going inside.
  • If it is dark, use a flashlight (NOT matches, candles or lighters).
  • Listen for reports to see when drinking water is safe.
  • Don’t turn your power on until an electrician has inspected your system.
  • Begin documenting your damage claim by taking an inventory of your damaged or destroyed belongings and gathering your insurance policy documents.
  • Use a camera to photograph any damage.
  • Once you’ve gathered necessary documents and evidence of your claim, contact your insurance company or agent.

Lakes & Midwest Tornado Averages

Southern parts of the Lakes and Midwest region usually see the most tornado activity in May. More Northern states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio often peak in June or July. Illinois is particularly susceptible to tornado activity in April as well (when compared to other states in the area).

Check out the tornado averages by month for the following states:

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Tornado Averages in Ohio

A more northern state like Ohio sees record peaks happen in June and July. As for yearly averages, there are about 19 tornados that strike each year. Take a look at the Ohio tornado averages by month below:

  • January – 0
  • February – 0
  • March – 0
  • April – 1
  • May – 3
  • June – 4
  • July – 5
  • August – 2
  • September – 1
  • October – 1
  • November – 1
  • December – 0

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Intermountain West Tornado Averages

States making up this area have an irregular tornado climatology, and for the most part, tornados are not terribly common here. When tornados do occur, May-September have the highest averages. Just because tornados don’t happen that often in the mountains doesn’t mean they don’t happen at all!

Check out the tornado averages by month for these states:

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