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What should you do if a tornado warning is posted? Safety precautions

A tornado warning is the most urgent alert, meaning that you should act immediately and take shelter. Here’s what to do when one is issued in your area.

Los tornados a menudo se concentran en el ‘callejón de los tornados’ en Estados Unidos. Conoce los estados que conforman el ‘Tornado Alley’.
Meindert van der HavenGetty Images

When a tornado warning is issued where you are, you must take action immediately, because that means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornadoes are extremely dangerous and can cause significant damage in a short amount of time. Here are some safety precautions you should take.

Take shelter

The first thing you must do is take shelter at once, whether you are at home or at work. Acting instantly can save your life. The most important thing is to get to the safest place you can find.

According to the National Weather Service, it’s important to get as low as you can. Go to a basement if available. If not, head to the lowest level of your home, such as a small interior room, bathroom, or closet. Put as many walls between yourself and the outdoors as possible. If you’re in a mobile home or temporary structure, leave and find sturdier shelter.

Avoid windows

Stay away from windows, glass doors, and skylights at all cost. Don’t waste your time trying to close them as they will not protect your home. Flying debris can shatter glass and cause injuries. Use whatever time you have to find a safe place.

Protect your head and neck

Get under something sturdy like a heavy table. Use your arms to protect your head and neck. A helmet can provide added protection if you have one available. If not, use sleeping bags, mattresses, pillows, blankets, quilts, or heavy coats to protect these vulnerable body parts.

Stay informed

Keep a battery-powered weather radio or a smartphone with emergency alerts enabled to receive updates and information about the tornado’s movement. Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, local news, or other official weather sources for updates on the tornado’s path and when it’s safe to come out of your shelter.

Avoid bridges and overpasses

Contrary to popular belief, seeking shelter under bridges or overpasses is not safe. These structures can create wind tunnels and increase the risk of debris impact.

Stay put

Once you’re in your chosen safe location, stay there until the tornado warning has expired and you receive an official “all clear” signal.


Let family and friends know you’re safe if possible, but avoid using the phone unless it’s an emergency to keep lines clear for emergency services.

Know your surroundings

Be familiar with your local area and identify nearby community shelters or safe locations where you can seek refuge if you are away from home.

Practice drills

If you live in an area that is prone to getting tornadoes, regularly practice tornado drills with your family so everyone knows where to go and what to do in case of a tornado warning.

Emergency kit

Have an emergency kit ready with essential supplies, including water, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, and any necessary medications.


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