What To Do In a Hurricane or Tornado

No one can control or predict a serious storm, but with proactive preparation, can help you stay safe and protect yourself
during and after a hurricane or tornado.

Learn more about preparing for a storm

Staying Safe During a Hurricane or Tornado

We’ve all seen dramatic images of devastating storms in the news. Most of us have even been through one ourselves. Some of us have had to put our lives back together after a tornado or hurricane.

But while we may not be able to control or predict serious storms, what we can do is prepare! Because when it comes to random weather disasters, the smarter we are, the safer.

Know When to Batten Down the Hatches

If your home is in tornado alley or along coastal areas, you’re probably at a higher risk of damage in a storm. That’s why it’s a good idea to know the signs of a dramatic storm, and know when to take cover:

Get inside, head to a shelter, or get your emergency kit together if:

  • Local authorities issue a storm watch or warning over the news
  • You see a strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base, or whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud
  • A heavy hail or rain storm is immediately followed by a dead calm or a fast shift in wind
  • You hear a thunder sound that doesn’t fade after a few seconds
  • You see the ocean near you swell, or hear waves hit the shoreline almost every 9 seconds
  • Wind speeds continue to pick up and grow steadily
  • Heavy wind followed by a driving rain that only gets worse

Know What to Do…

Before a Storm

It’s one thing to procrastinate at school or at work. It’s usually not that big a deal. But put off preparing for a serious storm and you could be in trouble when the real thing hits. Even if a hurricane is still days away, stores will be packed with people and evacuation roads may be clogged with traffic. So your best bet is to prepare well in advance.

That means:

  • Keeping an emergency supplies kit – keep canned goods, blankets, tools, flashlights and other emergency items on hand and at your fingertips.
  • Having a plan of action – know evacuation routes, shelter locations, and the safest and strongest rooms in your home. Make a plan to meet with and contact family members.
  • Securing your home – if there’s time, reinforce windows with plywood or storm shutters, and bring your car, garbage cans, lawn chairs, umbrellas (anything that isn’t anchored down) in from outside. Tie down and secure whatever you can. Depending on your area, it may be a good idea to look into protecting your home with Flood Insurance as well.
  • Leaving early – if you’re told to evacuate, pack what you need and get on the road. If a tornado is imminent, get out to a storm shelter immediately. Storms can come on in an instant, so don’t drag your feet.

During a Storm

This can be a scary time for you and your family. The safest thing to do once a storm hits though, is to stay in one place, keep your head down, and remain calm.

It’s also a good idea to:

  • Keep the radio on – authorities will update you with the latest storm news and tell you when it’s safe to come out of your home and shelters.
  • Put as many walls between you and the storm – face away from the wind, stay away from windows, and keep yourself as far insulated from the storm as possible.
  • Stay in the safest place – whether that’s your basement, a cellar, a storm shelter, or just a closet, once you’re there don’t move until it’s safe to come out.

After a Storm

Listen to your radio and check news sources to know when the storm has passed and it’s safe to come outside again. If you don’t have a radio or phone, listen for neighbors leaving their homes or wait at least a half hour after the wind stops before leaving. Once you’re out of your home, it’s a good idea to:

  • Watch for potential hazards – a storm can kick around a lot of debris, and the streets may be strewn with broken glass, nails, splinters, and downed power lines.
  • Ration food and water – depending on the severity of the storm, supplies may be limited for a while. So be safe and be smart about food and water consumption.
  • Check your home for damages – make a detailed list of all the damages you can see, and take pictures if possible. You’ll want to immediately call your Insurance Agent to get the claims process started quickly!
  • Protect your home with some temporary repairs – if windows or doors are missing, board them up and make some temporary repairs. This can prevent further weather damage and possible looting.


Preparation and Safety Tips

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.