A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground, generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. The winds are capable of causing extreme destruction and may leave a significant damage path depending on the strength of the storm. While the winds themselves are destructive, the debris they pick up is often quite dangerous as well. Most injuries and deaths caused by tornadoes are from collapsing buildings and flying debris. Tornadoes may produce strong, violent winds, lightening, heavy rains and flooding.


Preparedness for tornados involves being attentive to warnings and identifying options for shelter in a safe room or protected space. Since tornados occur as part of thunderstorms, it is important for those living in tornado prone areas to pay attention to storm forecasts and tornado alerts.

Here are some common-sense preparedness steps that should practiced and discussed with your family:

Creating and practicing a Home Tornado Plan: Pick an uncluttered place where family members could seek shelter: a basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor.

Assembling a Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.

Heeding Storm Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.  A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado WARNING is issued, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety.

Preparing for High Winds: Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and unreinforced masonry. Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.

During an Emergency: At this time, it’s critical to follow the instructions provided by local emergency workers. If you are asked to stay in your home, don’t try to leave. If you are not allowed to enter your neighborhood, please come to a Red Cross shelter until conditions are safe for you to return home.

For more information on what to do during, before, and after a tornado visit RED CROSS.


Community Organization

  • Find out what types of disaster are likely to occur in your area or community and how to prepare for each.
  • Find out how local authorities will contact you and approach your community during a disaster.
  • Contact your local Red Cross Chapter for details about community disaster education presentations that may be arranged or are available in your workplace, school or community organization.
  • Get trained in CPR and first aid so you will know how to respond to emergencies and aid your community in the event that help is delayed.
  • Identify families who have gone through tornadoes and are willing to tell how they are better prepared and serve as disaster advocates for the community.
  • Partner with Red Cross chapters and local emergency response units who may have upcoming community events in which they could share the preparedness message and hand out brochures.
  • Listen to local media and weather radiobroadcasts for the latest storm conditions, follow the advice of local authorities and spread it with your neighbors.
  • After a tornado occurs, contact photographers/videographers to go out with the first damage assessment teams. It is the best opportunity to capture “fresh” damage photos.


Local and National Government

Establishment of an effective warning system is a critical preparedness action that can provide the needed alerts to community members to seek shelter.

Furthermore, here are some tips and advices for Local and National Government on tornado preparedness:

  • Partner with local Red Cross chapter departments and emergency management agencies who may have upcoming community events in which they could share the preparedness message and hand out brochures.
  • Contact local or national weather service offices or emergency management agencies for information on local tornado warning systems and link this information into other local and national government websites.
  • Invite local meteorologist and disaster preparedness practitioners to provide tips for the local population on air.
  • Team up with local merchants for a display about an emergency preparedness kit.
  • Publish a special section in local newspapers with emergency information on tornado watch and warnings that includes the phone numbers of local emergency services offices, local Red Cross chapters, and the nearest hospitals.
  • If meteorologists are predicting a tornado, pitch tornado preparedness tips to radio and television stations, as well as posting those tips immediately on local and national government websites. In addition, ensure continuity of service delivery messages.
  • Activate your Disaster Public Affairs Team early in the day. Tornadoes are notorious for taking out phone and electrical service, so schedule your volunteers early and educate them on self-deployment.

During and after a tornado strikes don´t forget:

  • Set up shelters for the affected population, provide all of their locations and urge those impacted by the tornado to come to a shelter. Provide, if possible, a hot meal, a safe place to stay, minor first aid, and a shoulder to lean on.
  • Ensure mobile response vehicles in affected communities so that families can get snacks, meals and water while debris removal is happening.
  • Be aware that Disaster Mental Health teams will be needed to help in shelters and affected neighborhoods to let families know what to expect physically and emotionally in the days ahead.
  • Be aware that local and national governments as well as Red Cross chapters need three critical resources to respond to this storm: time, money and blood.



Tornadoes may occur with little or no warning. Therefore, precautions should be taken in advance of severe storms. These precautions and steps may include:

Learn the risks associated with tornadoes, how they occur and warning signs

  • Determine what the primary risks to the business would be. This may include on-site staff and customer safety, merchandise/stock, and major investments.
  • Be aware of potential debris outside the business—for example: low hanging tree limbs, moveable furniture, trash bins, hanging plants. Secure these items, if possible, to prevent further injury or damage.

Stay informed

  • As with any severe storm, listen to local news or a weather radio to stay informed about tornado watches, warnings, or changes in severity. In addition, be aware of community’s warning system.
    • Establish an alarm or notification system, with multiple modes of communication, to warn staff, visitors, and customers of a tornado watch/warning.

Develop a plan

  • Develop an emergency plan. Include where safe rooms are located, how to account for personnel, and plans for addressing on-site hazards.
    • Pick a safe room in the business, in all locations, where staff/customers/visitors may gather during a tornado. This room may be in a basement or an interior room on the lowest level with no windows, if a storm cellar is not available. Consider reinforcing the designated room(s).
    • Post directional signage to guide individuals toward designated safe room(s).
  • Practice tornado drills periodically.
  • Keep employee contact information up-to-date.
    • Have an emergency communication plan, including family notification.
  • Invest in well-stocked first aid kits and identify employees who are trained and may be able to administer first aid in the event of injuries.
  • Designate back-up scenarios to perform critical functions of the business, including payroll and benefits.
  • Identify critical employees and plan with them how to respond after a disaster. Remember that employees will need time for personal matters, so work to develop arrangements.
  • Identify important documents and store them in a safe place, and consider storing a copy in a separate location.
  • Keep accurate inventories and understand exactly what is and is not covered by insurance plans, if applicable.

Additionally, consider creating a or revising your current workplace’s Business Continuity Program.

Tornadoes are violent by nature. They are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). [ARC]

Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, they are found most frequently in the United States. In an average year, 1,200 tornadoes cause 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries nationwide.

Tornado Facts 

  • A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.
  • Tornadoes may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms within the funnel.
  • The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
  • The average forward speed is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph.
  • The strongest tornadoes have rotating winds of more than 250 mph.
  • Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
  • Waterspouts are tornadoes which form over warm water. They can move onshore and cause damage to coastal areas.

When and Where Tornadoes Occur

  • Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year.
  • Tornadoes have occurred in every state, but they are most frequent east of the Rocky Mountains during the spring and summer months.
  • In the southern states, peak tornado occurrence is March through May, while peak months in the northern states are during the late spring and summer.
  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. but can happen at any time.

[Source: NOAA]

Tornado: A violently rotating storm of small diameter; the most violent weather phenomenon. It is produced in a very severe thunderstorm and appears as a funnel cloud extending from the base of a Cumulonimbus to the ground. (ReliefWeb)