Tornado Safety Tips

By Sharon Hurley Hall
approaching tornado on the prairie
Tornado season is coming—are you ready? Most tornadoes happen between April and June, though they can occur year-round. Tornadoes can be extremely powerful, achieving speeds of more than 200 miles per hour and can travel hundreds of miles. Learn what actions you can take before a tornado hits, while it's happening and after it's passed to keep you and your family safe.

Preparing for a Tornado
  • Listen to weather reports so that you know when conditions are changing.
  • Understand the difference between a tornado watch (which means a tornado may affect your area) and a tornado warning (which means it almost certainly will).
  • Look out for dark sky, dark or rotating clouds, a roaring sound or loud hail, but remember that you may not always see a tornado coming.
  • Subscribe to emergency alerts and tune in when a storm is on the way.
  • Make sure you have a good supply of bottled water and nonperishable food (and a can opener) stored in your basement or storm shelter.
  • Keep your home and car emergency kits stocked with essential medication and first aid supplies. Keep flashlights and batteries on hand. Store copies of important documents in a waterproof container.
  • Fill your car with gas and park it in a garage or covered structure.
  • Secure any items, especially outside your home, that could become flying debris and cause injury.
  • Make an emergency plan that identifies safe locations and how you'll communicate. Practice it with your family. Ensure your home insurance is up to date.
  • Identify or build a safe room, using these guidelines from FEMA.
  • Create an inventory of your personal belongings with the Liberty Mutual Home Gallery® App.
What to Do During a Tornado
  • Find a good place to shelter in a well-protected area like an interior room, a basement, a hallway or a safe room. Solid pieces of furniture can provide additional tornado protection. If you are in a high-rise building, stay on a low floor. Avoid sheltering in mobile homes.
  • Stay away from windows as high winds can break the glass.
  • Account for all family members and pets.
  • If you are in your car, park your vehicle and seek shelter right away.
  • If you are outside, lie flat on low ground below the level of the road until the storm ends.
  • Avoid flying debris.
Recovering from a Tornado
  • Check weather reports to find out when it's safe to go outside and follow the direction of civil authority officials.
  • Never enter buildings that appear structurally unsound. If you're away from home, wait for the all clear before returning home.
  • Keep your body well covered when examining your home for damage to avoid injury.
  • Watch out for broken or damaged utility lines and fallen debris and report them.
  • Use flashlights rather than candles when examining buildings in case of gas leaks.
  • Keep generators and their fuel outside when operating.
  • Be alert for the smell of gas. If you do smell gas, leave the building and call the fire department.
  • Check for injuries and provide first aid if you are trained.
  • Photograph any damage to your home or contents so you'll have proper documentation for any claims.
  • Get professional help to rebuild any parts of your home that have been damaged.


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