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What to Do Before, During and After a Tornado Strikes 
 
by Joanne Heck May 31, 2005

This article details exactly what you should know and do before a tornado hits your area, during the event and the aftermath. Having the basic knowledge of tornadoes, how to prepare for them and the things to do during and after one hits can save your life!

Imagine having only a minute to take cover from a tornado! Are you prepared? Do you know what to do, where to go and how to protect yourself and your family? Does your family know how to contact you in case you are separated? What about after the tornado strikes?

This article details exactly what you should know and do before a tornado hits your area, during the event and the aftermath. Having the basic knowledge of tornadoes, how to prepare for them and the things to do during and after one hits can save your life!

Things to Do and Know Before a Tornado Strikes

Know the Signs of a Tornado

  • Any strong rotation in the cloud base
  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by a short period of calm
  • A loud roar

It is important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means that weather conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur. A tornado warning alerts the public that a funnel cloud or tornado has been spotted. In the event of a tornado warning, you should tune to your local television channel and watch the reports to see if the tornado is in your area or coming in your direction. Don’t wait until you spot the tornado! If your local news channel has issued a tornado warning, it’s time to head for safety.

Be Prepared

Planning and preparation ahead of time will ensure that you have the supplies and information you need to get through the storm. Tornadoes often give only a minutes warning. Preparation and practice will allow you to get to safety immediately.

Discuss a safety plan with your family. Be sure they know where to go in case of emergency weather conditions. Things to include in your plan are:

  • Emergency communication plan -- In case there are family members away from home when the tornado strikes, you should have a plan to contact an out of state relative to let them know where you are. Be sure everyone knows the number. Many times, out of state phone calls are easier to make than local ones during an emergency.
  • Emergency supply kit -- Your emergency supply kit should be assembled and rechecked at least once a year. You should include at least one flashlight with extra batteries, a portable radio, bottled water, good shoes for each family member if possible, and cash and credit cards. If space allows, a few canned goods and a can opener are a good idea. It’s important that all family members know where the emergency supply kit is. Be sure to stress the importance of not trying to gather supplies when they should be seeking safety.
  • Practice -- Have a drill at least once a year to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go during a tornado. Review your emergency communication plan and meeting place.
  • Have a meeting place -- If you become separated from your family, or there are family members who were not at home during the tornado, a predetermined meeting place will help in finding your loved ones.

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