How to Stay Safe During a Tornado: Be Prepared With These 5 Steps

How to Stay Safe During a Tornado: Be Prepared With These 5 Steps

Also known as twisters, tornadoes are a rapidly spinning column of air that reaches from a thunderstorm cloud to the ground below. And they’re as violent as they seem. In fact, they are among the most violent weather emergencies we can experience. They can completely destroy homes, uproot trees and send objects flying. 

Tornado winds can reach a sweeping 250 MPH and can clear a pathway a mile wide and over 50 miles long. That’s unbelievable! better believe it. “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” Tornadoes can occur anywhere. Every U.S. state has experienced twisters, but Texas holds the record: an annual average of 120! 


Typically tornados in the U.S. move from the Southeast in the cooler months, then towards the southern and central Plains in May/June followed by the northern Plains and Midwest during early summer. But they aren’t always predictable. It’s important to know what to do in the event of a tornado so you can have peace of mind. 

These are two signals that are important to know. Make note of the differences between them: 
  • Tornado Watch
A tornado is possible. Stay on alert. 
  • Tornado Warning 

A tornado is already occurring or will occur soon. Go to a safe place ASAP. 
Here are some safety tips for before and during a tornado to make you and your loved ones ready for the unpredictable. 

Be Prepared for a Tornado 

Protect your family 

First and foremost, discuss an emergency plan with your family. Reduce fear and anxiety by running through a mock tornado drill least once a year so everyone knows what to do and where to go. If you haven’t yet done one, start now. And ensure everyone knows the difference between a tornado watch and tornado warning. 

After you’ve got everyone on the same page, invest in an emergency kit if you haven’t yet. Keep it nearby and stocked. We’ve got plenty of ready-made kits for your convenience. JUDY’s got your back!

Know where to shelter

Designate an area of your home as a shelter and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat. It should be an underground shelter, basement or safe room. 

If you have none of those available, a windowless, interior room at the lowest level of a sturdy building will also work. And take important note, that mobile homes are not safe during a tornado, regardless of how well they are rooted. 

If you have enough time to evacuate, then locate where your nearest emergency shelter is. 

Stay aware and alert

Be alert to weather conditions and sign up to your community’s warning system for the latest information. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) will provide emergency alerts when necessary. Listen to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio or tune in to a local television station for real-time updates. 

You can also watch for tornado signs like dark, often green clouds forming, a funnel-shaped cloud or a loud, thunderous roar. 

Stay Safe During a Tornado 

Seek shelter immediately 

If at home: 

  • Go to the safe place you’ve identified at the lowest level possible (basement, inner hallway, storm cellar) and get away from the windows. 
  • Go to the center of the room and stay away from any corners because they might attract more debris. 
  • Take any animals or pets with you and keep them in control. 
  • Take cover by covering your head and neck with your arms and if possible, shield yourself with a coat or blanket. 

If in a car:

  • You should never try to out-drive a tornado in a vehicle. Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building immediately. 
  • If there is no time or nowhere accessible, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. 
  • Be aware of potential flooding and flying debris. Cover your head and neck with your arms and protect yourself with an outer shield (coat or blanket) if possible. 

Listen to authorities and remain mindful 

Keep listening to the local news and don’t return anywhere until authorities deem it safe. Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of damaged buildings. Pay attention to see if anyone acquired any injuries, then let your friends and family know you are safe.

If you left your home you’re able to return back, then remain mindful of foundation cracks, fire hazards and take note of significant damage for insurance purposes. Don’t enter without wearing protective clothing. 

Don’t Wait for a Tornado to Act!

Make “ready” your new mantra. Be prepared and empowered with the knowledge and tools that will keep you and the people who matter most safe. 

If you have additional questions, send them our way!

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