Be Red Cross Ready
Tornado Safety Checklist
Know the Difference
A tornado is a violently rotating column of
air extending from the base of a thunderstorm Tornado Watch
down to the ground. Tornado intensities are Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and
classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe
between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). They room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a
are capable of completely destroying well- tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
made structures, uprooting trees and hurling Tornado Warning
objects through the air like deadly missiles. A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado
Although severe tornadoes are more common warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go
in the Plains States, tornadoes have been immediately underground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior
reported in every state. room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
What should I do to prepare What should I do if a tornado What do I do after a tornado?
for a tornado? is threatening?
Ë During any storm, listen to local news or Ë The safest place to be is an underground Ë Continue listening to local news or a
a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed shelter, basement or safe room. NOAA Weather Radio for updated
about watches and warnings. information and instructions.
Ë If no underground shelter or safe room
Ë Know your community’s warning is available, a small, windowless interior Ë If you are away from home, return only
system. Communities have different room or hallway on the lowest level of a when authorities say it is safe to do so.
ways of warning residents about sturdy building is the safest alternative.
Ë Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and
tornados, with many having sirens
• Mobile homes are not safe during sturdy shoes when examining your walls,
intended for outdoor warning purposes.
tornadoes or other severe winds. doors, staircases and windows for damage.
Ë Pick a safe room in your home where • Do not seek shelter in a hallway or
household members and pets may gather bathroom of a mobile home. Ë Watch out for fallen power lines or
during a tornado. This should be a • If you have access to a sturdy broken gas lines and report them to the
basement, storm cellar or an interior shelter or a vehicle, abandon your utility company immediately.
room on the lowest floor with no mobile home immediately. Ë Stay out of damaged buildings.
windows. • Go to the nearest sturdy building or
shelter immediately, using your Ë Use battery-powered flashlights when
Ë Practice periodic tornado drills so that examining buildings—do NOT use candles.
seat belt if driving.
everyone knows what to do if a tornado
• Do not wait until you see the
is approaching. Ë If you smell gas or hear a blowing or
hissing noise, open a window and get
Ë Consider having your safe room everyone out of the building quickly and
Ë If you are caught outdoors, seek
reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an call the gas company or fire department.
shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy
interior room to provide better
building. If you cannot quickly walk
protection can be found on the FEMA Ë Take pictures of damage, both of the
to a shelter:
Web site at http://www.fema.gov/ building and its contents, for insurance
plan/prevent/rms/rmsp453.shtm. • Immediately get into a vehicle, claims.
buckle your seat belt and try to
Ë Prepare for high winds by removing Ë Use the telephone only for emergency
drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
diseased and damaged limbs from trees. calls.
• If flying debris occurs while you
Ë Move or secure lawn furniture, trash are driving, pull over and park. Ë Keep all of your animals under your
cans, hanging plants or anything else that Now you have the following direct control.
can be picked up by the wind and become options as a last resort:
a projectile. Ë Clean up spilled medications, bleaches,
• Stay in the car with the seat belt gasoline or other flammable liquids that
Ë Watch for tornado danger signs: on. Put your head down below could become a fire hazard.
the windows, covering with your
• Dark, often greenish clouds—a hands and a blanket if possible. Ë Check for injuries. If you are trained,
phenomenon caused by hail • If you can safely get noticeably provide first aid to persons in need until
• Wall cloud—an isolated lowering of lower than the level of the emergency responders arrive.
the base of a thunderstorm roadway, exit your car and lie
• Cloud of debris in that area, covering your
• Large hail head with your hands.
• Funnel cloud—a visible rotating
extension of the cloud base • Your choice should be driven by
• Roaring noise your specific circumstances.
Let Your Family Know You’re Safe
If your community experiences a tornado, or any disaster, register on the American
Red Cross Safe and Well Web site available through RedCross.org to let your family
and friends know about your welfare. If you don’t have Internet access, call 1-866-
GET-INFO to register yourself and your family.
For more information on disaster and emergency preparedness, visit RedCross.org.
Copyright © 2009 by the American National Red Cross | Stock No. 658592