As this week’s devastation in Oklahoma shows, tornadoes are among the most violent storms. The tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., on May 20 left many residents injured and without homes and cost numerous lives.
Unfortunately, tornadoes can strike with little or no warning, destroying entire neighborhoods in just a few minutes. But there are some things you can do to improve your safety.
- Know the signs. Tornadoes often happen during thunderstorms. You should look out for dark, greenish skies; large hail; a large, dark, low-lying cloud; a visible, rotating funnel; or a loud roar. Get to know your local warning system and keep a battery run radio ready to go. If there’s a tornado watch, listen for weather updates and be prepared to shelter. If there’s a tornado warning, it means a tornado has been sighted and you should act now to find shelter.
- Prepare your home. Pick a safe room in your house that is most secure for your family and pets. Ideally, it should be underground or in the basement. If that’s not an option, then you should pick somewhere with no windows. Put together an emergency stockpile kit and store it somewhere easy to access in an emergency. And be sure to practice your drill.
- Know where to go. If you're in a car, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If there is flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park. As a last resort, you can stay in your car with your seat belt on, lowering your head down below the windows and covering it with your hands and a blanket, if available. Another last resort option is to get out of your car, find a place that is noticeably lower than the level of the road and lie in it, covering your head with your hands. Your choice should be decided based on circumstances.
Check out our Get Ready tornado fact sheet for more information and get tips for preparing a safe room from Ready.gov.