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How to prepare for tornadoes

Tornadoes impact locations across the country every year and are one of nature's most terrifying sights. They are the most violent storms on Earth. In 2020, there were 1022 confirmed reports of tornadoes in the United States reported by the National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA).

In 2020, about 78 people perished in tornadoes compared with 41 in 2019. Tornadoes cut a trail of destruction and devastation. Texas has an average of 140 tornadoes a year, with Kansas and Florida following, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tornadoes are rated from F1 to F5, with five being the most destructive.

Oklahoma is in Tornado Alley, and they give good advice. Their basic guidelines when a tornado threatens your neighborhood include:

  • Get in - get as far inside a strong building as you can, away from doors and windows

  • Get Down - get to the lower floor

  • Cover up - use whatever you can to protect yourself from flying or falling debris

When you are under a tornado watch, do not disregard the signs. Swirling clouds, darkened skies, severe thunderstorms, and funnels that touch the ground are some of the significant signs of a tornado. Pay attention to any alerts issued by your local weather services.

Tornado preparation must occur before a storm or threat emerges. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines steps to take for staying safe in a tornado:

  1. Make a plan about what you and your family will do to stay safe no matter where you are (home, school, on the road, etc.).

  2. Prepare an emergency kit with food and water to sustain you for 72 hours or longer.

  3. Stay aware of weather conditions and listen to the local weather radio station.

  4. Know the best places to shelter both indoors and outdoors.

  5. Always protect your head.

Best places to be when a tornado hits:

Find the safest place in your home. Go underground to your basement. If you have no basement, go to an inside room without windows on the lowest floor (bathroom, closet, or center hallway). Cover your head in case something falls on you.

Is a bathtub safe during a tornado?

According to, bathrooms usually have strong framing and pipes in the walls that help hold them together.

A bathtub can help save your life during a tornado. Cover your body with a mattress, sleeping bag, or blanket. The basement is still the best place to go if you have one. For added protection, go under something sturdy like a heavy table or workbench. Some people have specifically designed tornado-proof "safe rooms" built to withstand tornado winds.

What are the 5 steps to prepare for a tornado?

  • Prepare an emergency kit

  • Head to the basement or somewhere safe and stay away from outside walls and doors

  • If in a car, head away from the tornado and get into a ditch or lower area

  • If away from home or in a trailer, look for a sturdy building to shelter in

  • If in a car, get out and get on the ground - being in a car is one of the most dangerous places to be

An emergency preparedness kit should include:

  1. One gallon of water per person, per day, for at least three days (72 hours).

  2. Enough non-perishable food to last each person for three days and can opener

  3. First Aid kit.

  4. A battery-powered weather radio.

  5. Several flashlights with extra batteries

  6. Prescription medications.

  7. Portable radio - either windup or battery run

  8. Sanitation supplies

  9. Copies of important documents, including insurance papers

  10. Home inventory list

Here is a more comprehensive list.

What should you not do during a tornado?

DON'T: Stand near windows or other glass objects. DO: Get out as quickly as possible and find a shelter or lie flat on low ground away from trees and cars, protecting your head.
DON'T: Stay in the mobile home, even if it is tied down, as most tornadoes can destroy mobile homes that are tied down.

Deadliest Tornados

The "Tri-State Tornado" of 1925 is the single deadliest tornado on record in the United States. The tornado traveled 219 miles across Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri - also longest on record - killed 695 people and injured 2,027 others.

In late-April of 1989, a devastating tornado hit Bangladesh, killing around 1,300 people and injuring 12,000 others. Approximately 80,000 people were left homeless.

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