Tornado Safety

Staying safe during and after a tornado presents many specific challenges, because tornadoes give little or no advance warning before they strike. Tornadoes are extremely dangerous and unpredictable, and as such, there’s no way to guarantee your safety if you face one. However, there are many steps you can take to survive a tornado.

Be prepared

Being prepared for a tornado isn’t very different from preparing for any severe weather. We’ve written at length about tornado and other severe weather preparedness.

To recap:

  • Establish a written emergency plan
  • Review insurance coverage for your business and home
  • Build an emergency kit that can be easily located in case of a power outage or if you need to leave in a hurry
  • Tune to NOAA Weather Radio or other local news sources for updates

Safety when a tornado approaches

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends several tornado-specific steps for staying safe during and after a tornado.

If you’re indoors

If you’re in a mobile home, get out. There is simply no safe place in a mobile home even if it is tied down. (See “If you’re outdoors” below.) In a commercial building or in your home, the further away from the outside you can go, the greater your chances of staying safe.

  • Stay away from windows, glass doors, and exterior walls
  • The safest place will be the interior part of a basement (or lowest floor if there is no basement)
  • Cover your head with a blanket, cushion or coat if possible
  • Crouch down and make yourself as small as possible

“If there is no time to get to a tornado shelter or to a lower level,” the CDC advises, “try to get under a door frame or get up against something that will support or deflect falling debris. For instance, in a department store, get up against heavy shelving or counters. In a theater, get under the seats.”

If you’re outdoors

  • Get as far away from trees and cars as you can
  • Lie flat and face-down in a gully or ditch and protect the back of your head with your arms
  • Do not seek shelter under bridges, which won’t protect you from flying debris

If you’re in a vehicle, there’s no guarantee you can stay safe. Seek shelter in a sturdy building if at all possible. If that’s not possible, do the following:

  • If the tornado is visible and far away from you, you can try to drive away from its path at a right angle to the tornado
  • If there isn’t time to drive away, park and stay in your vehicle with your seat belt on
  • Put your head below the windows and cover with your hands (and a blanket or coat if possible)

Safety after a tornado

According to the CDC, as much as half of tornado-related injuries occur “during rescue attempts, cleanup, and other post-tornado activities.” Thus, it’s important to know what you should and shouldn’t do after a tornado.

  • Check for injuries and get medical assistance immediately for seriously injured people
  • Render first aid to anyone with minor injuries
  • Stay away from downed power lines
  • Don’t enter any structure that has been damaged – it could collapse without warning
  • If your workplace or home has been damaged, shut off electricity, natural gas, and propane tanks
  • Watch out for exposed nails, broken glass, and other sharp objects in debris left behind
  • Cooperate fully with public safety officials
  • Respond to any requests for volunteer assistance from fire departments, emergency management, or relief organizations.

Learn more from the CDC

Read more:

Tornado Preparedness

What to Include in an Emergency Kit

We hope you never experience tornado damage, but if it happens you can rely on BluSky Restoration Contractors for expert storm damage repair and restoration services. Call us at 800.266.5677 or send us an email.


Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

Candace Johnson

Corporate Marketing Manager

Candace is a veteran marketer, who specializes in bringing out the best in companies. Responsibilities for BluSky include content creation and editing, brand management and consistency, website management, public relations writing, advertising, and social media management. Candace lives just south of Chicago with her husband Eric and three children.

Candace Johnson

Corporate Marketing Manager
Candace Johnson headshot