Tornado safety tips

Posted March 1, 2009 4:02 p.m. EST
Updated June 10, 2019 11:28 a.m. EDT

Go inside! Seek shelter inside a sturdy building.
Get to the lowest level of the building and avoid windows.
Abandon cars and mobile homes in favor of sturdier shelter.

Seek shelter in a substantial building.

In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement, bathroom or closet.

If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor, and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.

In a large building such as a shopping center, go to the designated shelter area, or to a small reinforced area within the building, such as a restroom. Avoid areas with a large roof expanse, as large roofs collapse under the stress of a tornado or downburst winds.

Stay away from windows.

If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a low spot like a ditch or culvert. You want to get as low as possible to protect yourself from all of the flying debris in a tornado. Protect your head with your hands.

If in you're in a vehicle and threatened by a tornado, abandon your vehicle and seek shelter in a substantial structure or in a ditch. Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. Tornadoes do not travel in straight lines, and it can be very difficult to determine what direction the tornado is moving.

Also never seek shelter from a tornado under an overpass. There is no safe place under an overpass. In fact, seeking shelter under an overpass puts you more at risk from violent winds and flying debris.

Be aware of flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned. Go to a reinforced shelter immediately.