Before The Storm

Tips To Prep For Tornado Season

by Thomas Walters // April - May - June 2023

Tornadoes can cause damage to buildings and injuries to people, so it’s important to know what to do if one is in the area. While you can’t control the weather, you can take steps to help prepare your home and keep your family safe during tornado season. Here are some tips on what you can do to be prepared and some safety measures to consider if a tornado does strike.

Prepare your home for tornado season

While tornadoes can happen at any time of the year, peak tornado season in the U.S. is in the spring and summer – here in North Carolina, tornadoes are most common between March and June, according to the NC Disaster Information Center. But even though we are currently in the throes of tornado season, it’s never too late to make your home secure. For instance, trim trees so that diseased or damaged limbs are removed, install permanent shutters on windows that you can close quickly, and have your garage door strengthened. Sign up to receive notifications from our local warning system or the Emergency Alert System. If you have time before a tornado approaches, move or secure debris and other loose items, such as lawn furniture and firewood, that may become a projectile during a tornado. You don’t want your patio set or lawn decorations to potentially become a source of danger for your family or neighbors.

Plan a Family Tornado Drill

Practicing where to go may help keep everyone in your household safe. Your drill should include a discussion of which rooms in your home are the safest in the event of a tornado. For example, if your home has a basement, you should seek shelter there, avoid windows, and use sturdy protection as cover. If you don’t have a base-

ment or can’t get to one, then go to the lowest floor in the building, or a small center room without windows, like a bathroom or closet. Other options include going under stairwells or to an interior hall-way. Cover yourself with something like a mattress or blankets that can act as padding against debris.

Stay Safe on the Road

If you’re in a car when a tornado is spotted, pull over and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If that’s not possible, the Red Cross advises pulling over, staying in the parked car with your seat belt on, and keeping your head below the windows. Next, cover your head with your hands and a blanket. Also, you should avoid seeking shelter under a bridge or overpass, as flying debris can become “dangerous missiles.” In addition, the passage underneath an overpass may increase the wind speed, potentially making it an unsafe location to seek shelter. If you find yourself outside of the car during a tornado, lie flat on the ground with your face down and your hands and arms protecting the back of your head. If possible, get in an area that is lower than the roadway, such as a ditch.

Pack an Emergency Kit

If a tornado touches down in your area, power might be knocked out. It might be a few days before you have electricity and clean running water in your home, so it’s a good idea to prepare a basic, all-purpose emergency kit for everyone in your household, including at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days and enough food for each person. The food supplies should also be enough to last at least three days. It’s also recommended to have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, as well as a NOAA Weather Radio, close at hand so you can stay up-to-date on tornado movements, as well as receive information when it’s safe to leave your shelter. You may also want to include a flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies, and local maps in your emergency kit.

Know What Not to Do

If a tornado is on the way to your area, don’t wait to take shelter. It is not safe to go outside and check on the storm or even watch it from inside. Avoid windows if a tornado is near. Don’t waste time opening windows to “equalize air pressure,” which is a tornado myth. Get into an interior room in the lowest level of your home. If you lose power, use flashlights instead of candles.

Look for Damage After

When a tornado is in your area, stay sheltered until the tornado warning has expired. When you do have the all clear to leave your shelter, you’ll need to check for any damage to your home, vehicle, and other property. Use caution when inspecting your property, and contact the authorities if debris is preventing you from exiting your home, you see downed power lines, or you think there is a safety issue with the utilities, such as a potential gas leak or fire hazard.

By taking a few steps to prepare your home and emergency kit before a tornado strikes, and practicing what to do during a tornado, your family can be better prepared when one is in your area.

Thomas Walters

Allstate agent and owner of Walters Insurance Agency.