Severe Weather Information

Tornado Tips

  • Houses with basements:
    Avoid windows. Go to the basement and seek shelter under a sturdy structure such as heavy table or workbench.  Covering yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag may also offer some protection. Take note of the location of very heavy objects on the floor above such as pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc. and avoid seeking shelter below that area. They could fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
  • Houses without basements, dorms, or apartments:
    Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor.  Seek out smaller interior rooms such as a bathroom, closet, hallway with now windows, or under a stairwell. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing downward, and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding such as a mattress or blankets.  This is to protect yourself from falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fall.
  • In an office building, hospital, or nursing home:
    Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building, away from glass. Crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay out of the elevators.  You could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
  • In a mobile home:
    Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes.  It’s best not to take such an incredible risk in hopes that yours will make it. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, seek open ground away from trees and cars, which could be blown onto you.
  • At School:
    Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
  • In a car or truck:
    Vehicles are extremely dangerous during a tornado. If the tornado is visible, appears far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive our of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible, out of the way of traffic. Get out of the vehicle and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If you are in the open country, run to lower ground away from any cars which could roll over onto you.  Lie flat, face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
  • Outside:
    If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If none is available, lie flat, face-down on lower ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as possible.
  • In a shopping mall or large store:
    Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.
  • In a church or theater:
    Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

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