Everything you need to know about tornadoes

When a natural disaster like a tornado strikes your area, you want to be prepared. Here is a handy guide for protecting your family from tornadoes and keeping everyone safe.

Everything you need to know about tornadoes

Being prepared for tornadoes

The worst tornadoes carry winds of 402 kilometres an hour (250 mph) or more, and their path of destruction can be in excess of 80 kilometres (50 miles) long. Every family should be prepared. Tornadoes can strike very suddenly.

For the most reliable warnings, place a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio in a high-traffic area of the house. It will continuously broadcast updated local weather warnings and forecasts. Equipped with a battery backup and a tone-alert feature, it will automatically inform you of an impending severe weather event. A tornado watch tells you to remain alert for approaching storms; a tornado warning means one has been sighted in your area and you should go to your designated shelter.

Also learn to recognize the visual signs of a tornado.

  • A funnel cloud is the classic indicator, but an approaching cloud of dust and debris may announce a tornado.
  • Other warnings: a dark, often greenish sky; large hail; or a loud roar similar to a freight train.

Tornadoes may develop along the trailing edge of a thunderstorm or hurricane. If a warning is issued and you are at home, head straight to the designated shelter.

  • Avoid any windows, and crawl under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a workbench or heavy table.
  • Use your arms to protect head and neck.
  • At work or school, seek a similarly solid part of the building.
  • If possible, avoid places with wide-span roofs, such as gyms, cafeterias, auditoriums and shopping malls.

Planning before a tornado occurs

Choose an area in your home — a basement, storm cellar, or a windowless interior hall or bathroom on the lowest floor — as a designated shelter.

  • Hold drills to practice going there quickly.
  • Equip it with a disaster supply kit.
  • Agree on a place to meet after the tornado in case you get separated.

Safety tips for after a tornado

After a tornado occurs, you can still be in danger. Be sure to follow these tips to make sure you and your family is safe.

  • Get out of any building where you smell gas or chemical fumes, or where there is substantial damage, because it may collapse in the aftermath.
  • Use the phone only for emergency calls.
  • Turn on a radio or TV to get the latest emergency information.
  • Clean up any spilled medicines, bleaches and flammable liquids immediately.
  • Watch pets closely. Stress may cause them to become aggressive. Confine dogs for several hours where they feel secure, such as in a kennel or crate.

Natural disasters can be scary events. Being prepared beforehand is the best way to make sure you and your family will be safe from tornadoes. This simple guide helps cover all the important planning you should do to make sure no one gets hurt.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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