A 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.