Taking Shelter During a Tornado

During a Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm

Know the difference between weather warnings:

Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued, or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room like a closet, hallway or bathroom.

Do you live in a place where tornadoes happen frequently? If you are in an area where tornadoes happen, make sure you know how to stay safe!

If you are at home during a tornado:

  • Go to a windowless interior room on lowest level of your house. Go to a storm cellar or basement if your house has one. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
  • Get away from the windows.
  • Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
  • Use your arms to protect head and neck.
  • If you are in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.

If you are at work or school during a tornado:

  • Go to the basement or to an inside hallway at the lowest level.
  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, or shopping malls.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
  • Use your arms to protect head and neck.

If you are outdoors during a tornado:

  • If possible, get inside a building.
  • If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Look out for flood waters which may also fill low areas.
  • Use your arms to protect head and neck.

If you are in a car during a tornado:

  • Never try to drive faster than a tornado in a car or truck. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or truck and toss it through the air.
  • Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.
  • If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding.