Considered the most destructive force of nature, tornadoes can produce the most violent winds in the world. With wind speed whipping as high as 250 mph, a twister can carve a merciless path of destruction.
Although the peak tornado season runs from April to late July, tornados can strike during any season and at any time of the day or night. You can help ensure your and your family’s safety and disaster needs by preparing for the storm.
Before the Storm ...
- Know the difference and help your children understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
- Tornado Watch: Current weather conditions could create a tornado, so be on the lookout.
- Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted in the area. Seek shelter immediately and listen to the radio for further updates. A warning is much more serious than a tornado watch.
- Prepare a tornado safety kit with your family that can be stored in the basement or designated safety shelter. Some items to include:
- battery-operated transistor radio
- extra batteries
- cash/credit cards
- spare house/car keys
- canned goods
- manual can opener
- first aid kit
- bottled water
- sturdy shoes
- work gloves
- old textbooks to protect your head from debris
- Complete an itemized inventory of your furnishings and personal belongings and store in a safe place such as fireproof box or in a safe deposit box at your bank. Update the list every two to three years. The Household Inventory Form can help you with this task.
- Know how to turn off the utilities: water, gas and electricity at their sources. Mark these switches with identifying tape or color code with a marker.
- Plan a safety route and establish a mutual shelter where your family can meet if a tornado hits.
During a Tornado Warning …
If there's a tornado warning, seek shelter.
- Go to a storm cellar, basement or lowest level of the building. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller, inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
- Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners, because they tend to attract debris.
- Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, such as a heavy table or desk, and hold on to it. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
- Stay tuned to a local radio station and do not head outdoors until authorities declare an "all clear."
After a Tornado ...
- Help injured or trapped persons.
- Give first aid where appropriate.
- Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
- Avoid loose or dangling power lines, and report them immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
- Enter your home with caution. Beware of snakes, insects and animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
- Take pictures or video of the damage, both to the house and its contents, for insurance claims. Make a list of all damaged and destroyed items.
- Assess the damage to your home and make temporary repairs to prevent further destruction.
- Hold off on permanent repairs until your insurance adjuster approves your reimbursement.
- Cover broken windows and damaged roof coverings immediately.
- Remove standing water from your home.
- Keep all receipts related to repairs and temporary housing.
- Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
Inspecting Utilities in a Damaged Home After the Storm:
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home.
- Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
- Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid the water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.