If you live in a region that’s prone to tornadoes, you need a tornado preparation guide to make sure you know what to do before a disaster strikes. Like any natural disaster, tornadoes can present life and death situations, so it’s important to have your family and home prepared in case of an emergency. After all, tornadoes cause an average of 60 to 65 fatalities and more than 1,500 injuries each year.
Tornadoes in the U.S. — When and Where Do They Occur?
Even if you didn’t realize it, there’s a tornado season, which is a period of time when tornadoes are most likely to occur in the U.S. That said, you may experience tornadoes at different times of the year depending on where you live in the U.S., according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. If you live in the regions below, you can expect to see or hear more about tornadoes during the listed times of year:
- Southern Plains: May into early June
- Gulf Coast: Early spring
- Northern Plains and Upper Midwest: June or July
Despite these seasonal designations, it’s important to remember that tornadoes can occur any time, in any place. One way you’ll likely be notified of an impending storm is with a tornado watch or warning.
If you see a tornado watch, it means weather conditions that could form a tornado are favorable. A tornado may or may not occur, but you should be aware that it’s a possibility and seek safe shelter.
However, if you see a tornado warning, you need to seek safe shelter immediately, because it means a tornado has been reported. This is especially true if you notice any of the signs of a tornado, such as:
- Dark, greenish clouds
- A funnel-shaped, rotating cloud
- A cloud of debris that’s approaching
- A loud, roaring sound
What to Include in Your Tornado Preparedness Emergency Kit
If you live within a vulnerable region that’s more likely to experience a tornado, you should always have a tornado preparedness emergency kit ready. You never know when you may need it! This kit can supplement any other emergency toolbox you have, but it should also contain items that will come in handy in dealing with the aftermath of a tornado.
Your kit should include traditional supplies, such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid bandages, flashlights and batteries, but you should also stock up on other useful natural disaster items, such as:
- Walkie talkies: To communicate with family/friends if cell phone service is out
- Dust masks and work gloves: To use for cleaning up after the storm passes
- A whistle: To help others find your location if you’re separated and need help
- Good walking shoes: To keep your feet warm and dry if you’re walking out-and-about post-storm
- Trash bags: To help with post-storm cleanup
- Cash: To use if ATM machines and credit/debit card systems are down
- Tarps and duct tape: To cover property before and/or after the storm
How to Prepare Your Home or Farm for a Tornado
Now that you’ve upgraded your emergency kit, there are a few other things you need to do before a potential tornado hits. These tornado preparation tips can work for anyone, whether you maintain a home or a farm.
Make a Family Plan
This step is one of the most important preparation tips because natural disasters like tornadoes never come at the perfect time. You should develop a pre-written plan that identifies a safe place in your home for family members to go. You should also practice how this would work in the event of a tornado.
If you live on a farm, you may consider creating two plans — one for your family and one for your livestock and other animals. You should make a plan so you’ll know where your animals need to go. Don’t forget to gather an emergency food and water supply for your animals too.
Secure Items That Could Be Picked up by the Wind
Since tornadoes can cause violent winds, you risk damaging your home if outdoor lawn furniture, trash cans or other large items are not secured down properly.
Tornado Preparation for Homesteaders
Lastly, preparing for a tornado doesn’t make a difference if you don’t know what to do if you’re caught in one. Follow the tips below to stay safe during a tornado.
If you’re indoors:
- Go to your safe room: Seek shelter in your basement, storm cellar or an interior room without windows on the lowest level possible.
- Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls: Cover your arms and head to protect yourself from any debris.
If you’re outside or in a car:
- Seek shelter immediately: Avoid taking refuge under a bridge or overpass.
- Cover your head and face: Use blankets if you have them, or your arms if you don’t.
Be sure to always check your local weather service for any watches and warnings about tornado sightings, and stay safe out there!