Tornadoes can produce winds in excess of 250 mph, nearly twice the speed of most hurricanes, and can be a mile wide. If a tornado warning is issued, your family’s safety is your priority. Activate your tornado plan immediately; you may have only seconds to take cover. Knowing what to do can save your life and the lives of those you love.
Choose the right shelter
If a tornado warning is issued for your area, take cover immediately because a tornado has been sighted.
- If you’re in a site-built house or modular home, go to the basement or storm cellar. If the house has no basement, choose an interior room on the lowest level, like a closet or bathroom. Make sure you are as far from doors, windows, corners and outside walls as possible. Try to crouch down under a sturdy object like a table, and protect your head and neck with your arms.
- If you’re inside a mobile or manufactured home, leave immediately! No place inside a mobile home is ever safe during a tornado. Even mobile homes equipped with tie-downs can be blown away by severe winds. Follow your tornado plan and seek shelter in a sturdy building nearby.
- There are varying recommendations if you are caught outdoors. While both the Red Cross and FEMA first stress seeking shelter immediately, they differ on what to do if you’re in a car.
- The Red Cross now recommends a few different actions depending on the circumstances you’re in. They first recommend getting into your car and driving to the nearest sturdy shelter away from the path of the tornado. If you spot flying debris while driving, you should get off the roadway and park. From there, you can choose one of the following actions as a last resort for safety. Either stay in the car with the seat belt buckled, crouch below the window level and cover your head with your hands or a blanket if possible; or, if it’s safe to do so, you can get out of the car and lie in a ditch or other depression lower than the level of the roadway, making sure to cover your head with your hands.
- FEMA continues to recommend that you never try to outrun a tornado. If you can’t walk to any safe shelter, you’re last resort for safety is to lie flat in a nearby ditch and cover your head with your hands.
- Both agree that you should not seek shelter from a tornado under a highway overpass. Overpasses can act like a wind tunnel, placing you at risk of being blown out by strong winds or hit by flying debris.