Tornado Safety and Preparation Tips

No one can control or predict a serious tornado, but the more you know, the better you can plan for what’s ahead.

Be proactive

When dealing with a tornado or severe weather event, preparation can make a difference in your ability to respond. In addition to making an emergency plan and having the needed supplies, homeowners insurance can be important ; in general, most standard homeowners insurance policies usually cover damage caused by tornados, windstorms and hailstorms.

Talk with your Farmers® agent. They can help you understand your insurance options so you can select the insurance you want and answer your insurance questions. Because the more you know, the better you can plan for what’s ahead.

Tips to consider if you are in a tornado

It’s never too early to prepare, and you can take several basic steps to help so you can protect your family and home from potential future damage.

  • Create a family plan, and know in advance where you will take shelter.
  • Identify escape routes from your home and neighborhood, and establish an emergency meeting place for your family to meet if you become separated.
  • Establish a contact person located in a different area that family members can call to connect with one another.
  • Put together an emergency kit well in advance of a storm. Include first aid supplies, nonperishable food and water, prescription medications, portable lanterns, a portable NOAA all-hazard radio and flashlight (with fresh batteries for both).
  • Preparing a home inventory before a disaster strikes — with a room-by-room list of contents with photos — will help you keep track of items that have been lost or damaged and allow you to provide an itemized list of damaged or lost items to the adjuster. Use a smartphone or camera to record every room and closet in your home to create an inventory. If you can, email the video to yourself or someone else or upload it online so you can access this inventory.

When a tornado threatens

  • Grab medical supplies and all medications you may need for the next few days, as well as your emergency kit if you have prepared one.
  • Go to the closest identified shelter, storm cellar or safe room immediately. If you don’t have a storm cellar or safe room and can’t get a community shelter, head to the centermost part of your home, preferably an interior room without windows.
  • Stay away from windows and under something sturdy like a workbench or staircase.
  • Do not open your windows; doing so won’t prevent them from breaking – and may actually make things worse by providing wind and rain an entrance point into your dwelling.

Inspect and protect your property

Once the storm has passed and you’ve checked in with friends and family, inspect your property if it is safe to do so, and do your best to protect it from further damage.

  • If you need to file a claim for damages, you can file online, through the Farmers Mobile App, by contacting your agent or calling the Claims Contact Center at (800) 435-7764.
  • If it is safe to do so, protect your property from further damage by making small emergency repairs to your home before an insurance adjuster sees it. This could include boarding up windows, putting a tarp on the roof, and salvaging undamaged items. Check with your insurance company to see what items they will pay for when used in protecting property after a storm, and be sure to take pictures and save your receipts.
  • Always be careful before entering a damaged building. If your property has sustained serious structural damage or if there are doubts about safety, contact local government officials, as they may order people to stay out of residences or specific areas.
  • Report downed power lines or gas leaks to the utility company. Keep electricity off if the house has been flooded, and never turn electricity on or off while standing in water. Rely on professionals to restore your utilities. 

Download a PDF - Tornado Safety Tips

"At 2 a.m., I woke up to see the bedroom walls bowing in."

Tornado survivors and disaster preparation experts share real-world insights that may help you prepare for a major twister.

Read the article

Information provided the Institute for Business & Home Safety. The Institute for Business & Home Safety’s mission is to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other property losses by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

The information and suggestions presented range from simple weekend tasks to involved projects that may require professional assistance. Before starting on any activity, make sure you are comfortable with the required skill level. If you are uncertain, contact a professional. Report any property damage to your insurance agent or company representative immediately after a wildfire or other natural disaster and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.

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