Be Prepared for Tornado Season

Be Prepared for Tornado Season

Be Prepared for Tornado Season

In minutes, violent weather can leave a trail of ruin. It’s important to be ready for tornado season. April through June is tornado season, but tornadoes can happen at any time. The best time to prepare is when you’re not under threat from severe weather.

While Dorothy only had to click the heels of her ruby red slippers to escape the tornado that swept her to the land of Oz, you’ll need to do a bit more. Start with these steps.

Make a Plan

While things are calm, take time to knock out some action items to stay safe before, during and after a tornado. Together, they should give you a clear idea about where to go, what to do and who to contact if one strikes. Be sure to:

  • Identify safe, protected places where you and your family can take shelter. Safe places should be on the lowest floor of a solid building. Choose a room without windows. A closet, basement or stairwell are good options.
  • Put together a severe weather kit. Each kit should have a flashlight, batteries, drinking water, a whistle, first-aid kit, duct tape and food.
  • Add a written list of contact names and numbers to your kit in case you lose your phone. Include your doctors’ phone numbers.
  • Gather your driver’s license or other identification, along with your member ID card, in case you get hurt. Keep them with you.
Know the Difference: Watch vs. Warning

A tornado watch means conditions are right for severe thunderstorms to produce tornadoes. When a watch is issued, it’s a good time to prepare for a tornado — even if it may not happen. Contact your family or work to let them know. Review your severe weather safety plans. Keep the radio or TV on to monitor changing weather conditions.

A tornado warning means tornado funnels are forming or may have already touched down. If a tornado warning is in effect, you should remain calm but take shelter.

Keep Safety in Mind

During a tornado warning and watch, follow these safety precautions:

  • Watch and listen for danger signs. Low dark clouds, large hail and roaring, freight train sounds signal it’s time to get to a safe place.
  • Leave mobile homes, flimsy structures and cars. Make your way to a safe building.
  • If you’re on the road, don’t stop under an overpass or bridge.
  • Don’t try to outrun a tornado.

If you are stuck outside, lie flat in a ditch or other low place away from trees and cars. Cover your head. Most injuries and fatalities are caused by flying debris.

After the storm, the threat of danger isn’t over. Be sure you:

  • Stay away from power lines and puddles that could have an electrical current.
  • Avoid open flames in case damaged fuel tanks or gas lines are nearby.
  • Steer clear of damaged buildings that could collapse.

If you are displaced or injured by a tornado, we're here to help

More Resources

Visit these websites for more information and safety tips:

Download the FEMA app leaving site icon for real-time alerts from the National Weather Service.

Source: Tornadoes, leaving site icon, 2022

Originally published 6/13/2016; Revised 2020, 2022, 2024