More than 1,000 tornadoes of varying scale and impact occur in the United States each year, mostly during the spring and summer months. Although tornadoes move quickly and may strike with little-to-no warning, there are steps you can take to make sure you’re ready and prepared before, during, and after severe storms. These tornado season tips will help you act quickly and stay safe. Here are six ways you can prepare for tornado season and the aftermath of severe storms.
1. Make an emergency kit.
Gather essentials like food, water, first-aid supplies, batteries, flashlights, local maps, personal sanitation items, medications, and cellphone backup batteries to have ready if you need to seek shelter. FEMA’s emergency supply list recommends stocking a kit with three-day supplies of drinking water and non-perishable food for each member of your family. Place items in portable, air-tight containers that you can easily carry them with you to safety.
2. Coordinate with your network.
Tornadoes are unpredictable and can strike at any time. Your family may not be together in the event of a tornado warning, and family members might need to seek shelter in separate locations. Create and discuss a family communication plan so that you and your loved ones can contact one another and reconnect when it’s safe to do so. Make sure your family members know how to receive emergency alerts, where to seek shelter, and what steps to take in the event of an evacuation.
3. Know the signs of severe storms.
Understanding the signs of a tornado can help you respond and get to safety faster. Signs of a tornado include a “rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; an approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar — similar to a freight train.”
4. Stay informed.
There are several ways to learn about threats of severe storms and tornadoes in your area, including radio, television, and social media. However, receiving emergency updates on your might be the most immediate and effective way to stay informed. Consider downloading the Emergency: Alerts app from the American Red Cross, which will sound an alarm if there is a danger of a tornado or other natural disaster in your area.
5. Know where to seek shelter.
Identify the safest room in your home to take shelter. This should be a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of your home. In businesses, schools, medical buildings, and other public spaces, look for an evacuation plan and an appropriate space, either onsite or nearby, to seek shelter. Learning how to access shelter in the locations that you frequent could give you peace of mind, reduce panic, and help you act faster in the event of a tornado or severe storms.
6. Practice caution after the storm.
The destruction and debris that tornadoes leave behind could pose additional risks to your safety. Use caution when leaving your shelter location, and stay out of damaged buildings and homes. Watch for and be especially cautious of downed power lines and dangerous debris. If your family members took shelter in different locations, reconnect with them at a designated meeting place as soon as it’s safe to do so.