Tornadoes can appear almost without warning but there are ways you can protect your family. AAA Hoosier Motor Club suggests several precautionary steps that should be taken in anticipation of a tornado.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale from F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). They are capable of destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like missiles. While they’re more common in the spring, tornadoes can strike throughout the year in Indiana.

Watch or Warning?

Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or if you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps save lives.

Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Immediately go to a basement, storm cellar or interior room such as a closet, hallway or bathroom.

What Should I Do To Prepare For a Tornado?

  1. During any storm, listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about watches and warnings.
  2. Know your community’s warning system.
  3. Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets can gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room with no windows on the lowest floor.
  4. Practice periodic drills so everyone knows what to do when a tornado is approaching.
  5. Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  6. Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants and other items that could be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  7. Watch and listen for tornado danger signs:

Dark, often greenish clouds  – A phenomenon caused by hail 
– An isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm cloud of debris

Funnel cloud
– A visible rotating extension of the cloud base roaring noise

What Should I Do if a Tornado is Threatening?

  • The safest place to be is in an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
  • If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
  •  Mobile homes are not safe during tornados and severe winds.
    • Do not seek shelter in the hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
    • If you have access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, abandon your motorhome immediately.
    • Don’t wait until you see the tornado.

If You are Outside with No Shelter

  • If you are not in a sturdy building, there is no single research-based recommendation for what last-resort action to take because many factors can affect your decision. Possible actions include:
    • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
    • Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seatbelt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or another cushion if possible.
    • In all situations: Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
    • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for protection in a sturdy building.
    • Outdoor areas are not protected from flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

What Should I Do After a Tornado?

  • Continue listening to local news or to NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
  • If you’re away from home, return only when authorities say it’s safe to do so.
  •  Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes when examining your walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines and broken gas lines. Report them to the utility company immediately.
  •  If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly. Call the Gas Company or fire department.

Source: American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Resource Guide and


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