How To Prepare And Safely Weather A Tornado

Don’t wait for severe weather to arrive to start thinking about keeping yourself and your family safe. Now is the time to become StormAware. Being StormAware means that you and your family not only know how to protect yourselves in the event of a tornado or severe weather, but that you are aware of whenever the weather forecast calls for chance of severe storms; that during those times you monitor weather for severe watches and warnings.  

Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings  
  • Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.   
  • What is the difference between a tornado watch and warning: 
    • A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area.   
    • A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.   
    • Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county. 
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit 
  • First aid kit and essential medications 
  • Canned food and can opener 
  • At least three gallons of water per person 
  • Protective clothing, bedding, or sleeping bags 
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries 
  • Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members 
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)   
Prepare NOW 
  • Know your area’s tornado risk. In the U.S., the Midwest and the Southeast have a greater risk for tornadoes. 
  • Know the signs of a tornado, including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; an approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar—similar to a freight train. 
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) If your community has sirens, then become familiar with the warning tone. 
  • Pay attention to weather reports. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado. 
  • Identify and practice going to a safe shelter. The best protection is a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of a sturdy building. 
Survive DURING 
  • Immediately go to a safe location that you identified. 
  • Take additional cover by shielding your head and neck with your arms and putting materials such as furniture and blankets around you. 
  • Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions. 
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. 
  • If you are in a car or outdoors and cannot get to a building. Seek Shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine. Cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body with a coat or blanket, if possible. 
Be Safe AFTER 
  • Keep listening to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, and local authorities for updated information. 
  • Stay clear of fallen power lines or broken utility lines. 
  • Do not enter damaged buildings until you are told that they are safe. 
  • Save your phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messaging or social media to communicate with family and friends. 

Tornadoes are one of nature’s most violent storms and can cause death, injury, and destruction within seconds. You can find more tips on preparing your family for severe weather by visiting the Preparedness section of  

Make sure you’re properly covered before severe weather rolls in. Contact your local Rural Mutual agent for additional information.