Image of a tornado

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is an average of 1,253 tornados that occur in the United States. There are low-count states, such as Massachusetts with one tornado annually, to high-count states, such as Texas with an average of 155 tornados per year. Click here to find a full map of the annual tornado occurrences throughout the United States.

Before a Tornado Occurs

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to protect your home against a tornado. If your home is in the path of a tornado, the best thing you can do is protect yourself if you're not able to leave.

  • If the weather is getting increasingly worse, pay close attention to the weather reports and the NOAA weather radio. This will be the best method of knowing when you need to take shelter.
  • Safe spots to take shelter in include:
    • For a structure (ex:residence, school, hospital, etc.)
      • Storm cellar
      • Basement
      • If basement or storm cellar are not options, a small room or hallow on the lowest level of the building is a safe option, as well)
    • A manufactured home or office (ex: mobile home)
      • Leave the building immediately and head for a nearby building or shelter.
    • Outside
      • Take shelter in a stationary car, buckle up, and cover your head with your arms and a coat/blanket/cushion.
      • Get in a car, buckle up, and try to drive to the nearest shelter. If you realize you will not make it to a shelter, pull over and shelter-in-place.
      • Look for an area that lies lower than the road and position yourself facedown while covering your head with your arms and anything else you may have on hand.
  • Keep your emergency kit (See end of article) near your designated safe area. When you need to shelter-in-place for an approaching tornado, you will be able to quickly access your kit, if needed.

After a Tornado Strikes

  • If you're properly sheltered, most tornado-related injuries do not occur during a tornado. They do, however, occur during post-tornado activities, such as rescues and clean-up. Take caution when maneuvering through debris.
  • Keep your radio on and listen for emergency information related to rescue, hazards, etc.
  • Make sure to wear thick shoes, long sleeves, and gloves if you plan on picking through debris to recover items.
  • Do not touch any downed power lines, or objects that come in contact with them. Instead, report their location to the police and local utility company.
  • Never operate charcoal, gasoline, propane, or natural gas-burning devices inside the home, or even near an open window (grills, camp stoves, generators, etc.)These can create Carbon Monoxide and may cause severe illness or death when inhaled.
  • If requests are made for volunteer assistance, it is important to assist them as best you can. Do not attempt to assist, however, unless you are asked. You could potentially injure yourself while interrupting rescue efforts.
  • Turn off the main gas valve and the main circuit breaker if you suspect any damage.

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