Emergency Preparedness: Tornadoes

It is imperative that you have necessary preparations in place for tornadoes. Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes can occur at any point during the year (especially March 1st – August 30th). Although preparing in advance is a small time investment, having everything in order will allow you to devote time to last-minute items should you find yourself under a Tornado Watch or Warning. It is not uncommon for local grocery and hardware stores to run out of supplies in anticipation of a storm, so avoid being last minute in your preparations.

The first thing to understand is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. A Tornado Watch means that a tornado is possible near your area due to current weather conditions. A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by the weather radar, meaning danger in your area is imminent.

Ideally, everyone should have a tornado-appropriate room in their home – these rooms typically are basements, garages, or interior rooms on the first floor. At a minimum, the room should ideally have no windows and be anchored to the ground. It is in this room where you should keep your emergency supplies:

  • Make sure to inventory your valuables and keep this list in a safety deposit box. This includes property deeds, marriage/birth certificates, social security cards, stocks and bonds or other portfolio information, passports, wills, medical records, and insurance policies
  • Make a reference list of everything you would absolutely want to take with you should you have to evacuate your home so that you know exactly what to grab on a moment’s notice
  • Compile a list of contacts that you would want to stay in touch with throughout the storm. Decide who will take what roles, and where and when to meet should phone services be out. Many people will use an out of town contact that may be easier to reach than a local one
  • Know your city’s closest tornado evacuation center. Should you be away from home when the storm strikes, be sure to know safe places in which you can find shelter
  • If your area is placed under a Watch, make sure you wash all dishes and run the dishwasher. Also make sure that your laundry is washed and clean sheets and towels are being used. You don’t know when power may be restored, and this will avoid you running out of clean clothes too soon
  • Be sure to have cash on you as you may not be able to find operating ATMs after the storm
  • Fill up your car with gas, and potentially purchase a portable tank to bring extra gas as evacuation traffic can be slow
  • Make sure to have adequate supplies such as food and water (1 gallon per day, per person) for everyone in your household. Don’t forget the manual can opener! A good rule of thumb is to have enough supplies to last you for seven days
  • Be sure to have plenty of supplies for your baby, including formula (powdered), diapers, clean bottles, wipes, and baby food
  • Don’t forget to have all medications filled and readily available
  • Battery-powered radio or television and flashlights are key. Don’t forget batteries for these devices
  • Purchase a car charger for your phone
  • Make arrangements for your pets and have adequate supplies for them as well
  • Take adequate measures to account for any climate changes

Taking just an hour out of your day to develop a Tornado Plan will ensure safety and confidence during a potentially dangerous situation for you and your family.