When a tornado watch or warning is issued, one of the first things that come to mind is “what do I do?” First, it is important to know the difference between a watch & a warning.

Watch Vs. Warning

A watch means the ingredients are coming together but nothing has happened yet. At this point, you just need to be weather-aware and ready to act if a warning gets issued.

A warning means the threat is imminent or occurring and you need to take action!

If a tornado warning is issued, the best thing to do is to follow the acronym DUCK.

Where Do I Go When I’m At Home?

You want to go to the lowest level, most interior room of the building you are in (usually a basement, bathroom, or closet).

The most important thing to do is to put as many walls between you and the windows as possible. Once there, cover yourself with blankets, pillows, and put a bike helmet on if you have one available to protect your head.

Inside Your Apartment Building?

First, find out whether or not your complex has a designated storm shelter for the building or community. If so, this is your best option for seeking shelter in a tornado.

If there is no community or complex shelter available, get to know your neighbors below you on the first floor. Talk with them and try to seek shelter in their unit if possible. Otherwise, try to make arrangements to stay over at a family member or friend’s house on days where severe weather is expected.

Tornado safety in an apartment. Image: National Weather Service (NWS)

No other option? Go to the most interior room you can and cover yourself with blankets, pillows, and put a bike helmet on to protect your head.

If you live in a mobile home & a tornado is heading in your direction, LEAVE! Never stay inside a mobile home during a tornado warning. Go to a community shelter, nearby business, or a family/friend’s house.

I’m Driving On The Highway. What Should I Do?

Driving around town? Stop and pull over at the nearest business and seek shelter or take cover in a low-lying ditch. DO NOT TRY TO OUTRUN THE TORNADO OR TAKE SHELTER UNDER AN OVERPASS! You want to get out of your car and into a proper tornado shelter.

Tornado safety on the road. Image: National Weather Service (NWS)

Outside walking around? Go into the nearest building you can and seek shelter until the storm passes.

What If I’m At School Or Work?

In school? Follow directions from your teachers and administrators! They will lead you to the best place to seek shelter in the school (most likely a bathroom, basement, or hallway).

Once there, crouch down with your head in your knees and cover your neck and head with your heads. The most important thing to do is to keep your head down and protected. Do not get up until the storm passes and your teacher/administrators say it is safe to do so.

If the school has a tornado drill, take it seriously and pay attention so you know what to do if there is ever a real threat.

At work? Go to your employer’s designated shelter area. This may be an interior stairwell or bathroom. Some may have a room specifically designed for sheltering in severe storms.

Send Us Your Questions!

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