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Knowing what to do when you see a tornado, or when you hear a tornado warning, can help protect you and your family. During a tornado, people face hazards from extremely high winds and risk being struck by flying and falling objects. After a tornado, the wreckage left behind poses additional injury risks. Although nothing can be done to prevent tornadoes, there are actions you can take for your health and safety.
- Learn about the tornado warning system of your county or locality. Most tornado-prone areas have a siren system. Know how to distinguish between the siren's warnings for a tornado watch and tornado warning.
- A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes, for example, during a severe thunderstorm.
- During a tornado watch, stay tuned to a local radio and TV stations or a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radios for further weather information.
- Watch the weather and be prepared to take shelter immediately if conditions worsen.
- A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar.
- In the event of a tornado warning, you should take shelter immediately.
- When taking shelter, pick a place in the home where family members can gather. Avoid windows - an exploding window can injure or kill. The safest place in the home is the interior part of the basement. No basement? Go to an inside room, without windows, on the lowest floor. This could be a center hallway, bathroom or closet.
- For added protection, get under something sturdy, such as a heavy table or workbench. If possible, cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag or mattress, and protect your head with anything available-even your hands.
Learn more about what to do in the event of a tornado.
The following information on hurricane preparedness is provided courtesy of the American Red Cross.
Hurricanes and tropical storms are cyclones with tropical origins (tropical cyclones). Tropical storms have winds of 39 to 73 miles (63 to 117 kilometers) per hour. When these winds reach 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or more, the storm is called a hurricane. A single hurricane can last more than two weeks over open waters and can run a path along the entire length of the eastern U.S. seaboard, so it's important to know how to prepare and what to do in the event of one.
- Well before a hurricane threatens, you should make their homes "hurricane proof" by installing permanent hurricane shutters on windows and doors, tying the roof to the mainframe of your home with metal straps, and preparing a "wind safe" room.
- A "wind safe room would be used only for locations where residents have not been asked to leave or evacuate.
- Know how to distinguish between a hurricane/tropical storm watch and a hurricane/tropical storm warning:
- A Hurricane/Tropical Storm watch means there is a threat of hurricane/tropical storm conditions within 36 hours.
- People in a watch area should review their hurricane plans (Family Disaster Plan, Disaster Supplies Kit, evacuation routes), keep informed, and be ready to act if a warning is issued.
- A Hurricane/Tropical Storm warning means hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in 24 hours or less.
- When a warning is issued, people should complete their storm preparations and leave the threatened area if directed to do so by local officials.
- Local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio are the best sources of information in a hurricane situation for official weather and weather-related bulletins.
- NOAA Weather Radio is the prime alerting and critical information delivery system of the National Weather Service (NWS).
- If officials advise you to leave your home, go as soon as possible. Go to a shelter or to an out-of-town contact. Call your contact and tell him or her when you are leaving and where you are going. Local officials will advise you to evacuate only if they conclude that you are in danger.
- If you are not advised to evacuate, stay indoors, away from windows, skylights, and doors, even if they are covered. Stay on the floor least likely to be affected by strong winds and floodwater. A small interior room without windows on the first floor is usually the safest place. Have as many walls between you and the outside winds as possible. Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object - it will offer greater protection from falling objects.
- Close all interior doors. Secure external doors. Closed doors will help prevent damaging hurricane winds from entering rooms.
- Be aware that the calm "eye" is deceptive; the storm is not over.
Learn more about what to do in the event of a hurricane.
Published: March 18, 2011