Protecting Your Family and Home from a Tornado

Tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms. They can occur anywhere and at any time of year. It is important to take preventative measures to help protect your family, home and possessions. Here are some things you can do:

Before a Storm:
  • Protect Personal Belongings and Important Documents. Valuables and personal documents such as legal papers, birth certificates, marriage license, and insurance information should be inventoried and stored in a secure location (such as a bank safety deposit box). If off-site storage is not possible, then place these items in a bolted safe in an interior closet.
  • Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit. Include items that will sustain you and your family for a 72-hour period. This kit should include flashlights with extra batteries, a portable NOAA radio, signaling device such as an air horn, non-perishable food, a fire extinguisher (ABC rated), bottled water, cash, blankets, clothes, extra keys, extra glasses, prescription medications, and a first aid kit. Store your kit in a place commonly known to all family members. Replace and/or refresh items in your kit every six months.
  • Prepare an Action Plan. Decide in advance where you will take shelter. It could be a local community shelter, your own underground storm cellar, or in-residence "safe" room. Become familiar with your community's severe weather warning system and ensure that every family member knows what to do when a storm "watch" or "warning" sounds. Have a predetermined destination in mind so you can quickly relocate to a shelter or relative's house. Select a common meeting place and single point of contact for all family members in case you are separated. If you have pets, create a plan for them as well. Always stay informed of approaching storms by monitoring local television and NOAA weather radio for severe weather updates.
  • Prepare your Home. A "safe" room is the best form of protection for your family and valuables. They can be added to an existing home or incorporated into a new home design. If you do not have one, a room in the basement or small interior room without windows is recommended. The room should be easy to get to, and aim to put as many walls between your family and the outside as possible.
  • Secure the Building Envelope. Install dual glazed windows. Hurricane rated exterior doors and windows will provide even greater protection. Install a sturdy garage door and add extra nails to roof coverings and tie down straps to the roof assembly.
  • Address Landscaping. Replace rock/gravel landscaping material with shredded bark and keep trees and shrubs trimmed.
When a Storm Approaches:
  • Be alert to changing conditions. Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • Large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train
  • If a storm is approaching, take shelter immediately. Go to your designated room and cover family members with mattresses or get under a table.
  • Keep exterior doors and windows closed.
  • Close interior doors to provide more barriers between you and the storm.
After the Storm:
  • Continue to monitor your NOAA radio for emergency information.
  • Wear sturdy boots, long sleeves and gloves when near debris. Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.
  • If you suspect damage to your home, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane tanks.
  • Never use generators, grills, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devices inside your home or garage.
This information is advisory in nature. No liability is assumed by reason of the information in this document.