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Severe Weather Safety and Survival

Planning Ahead for Severe Weather

Use the guidelines below to develop a personal tornado safety plan for you and your family. Remember you need to have a plan for wherever you may be when a tornado strikes - at home, at school, at work, on the road or in a public building.

Know what the threats are. In Tennessee, we need to be concerned about severe thunderstorms, wind, hail, lightning, flash flooding and tornadoes.

You must be able to get to your safe shelter area quickly - you may only have seconds to act! Your first step to surviving a tornado is to develop a plan before storms are on the horizon.

Developing a Tornado Safety Kit

These items would be extremely useful to have in your storm shelter, or to take with you to your storm shelter, when severe weather strikes.

  • Disaster Supply Kit
    You should store your emergency supplies as close to your shelter as possible.
  • Battery Operated Weather Radio
    You will want to be able to monitor the latest information directly from your National Weather Service.
  • Battery Operated TV and/or Radio
    This will allow you to monitor news and severe weather information. Radios that offer TV audio can be helpful. Also, many TV stations simulcast their broadcasts on AM or FM radio stations.
  • Shoes
    This will be very important if your home is damaged and you must walk across broken glass or other debris!
  • Indentification
    You may need identification to move around in the area should significant damage occur.
  • Your Car Keys
    If your car is drivable, you will need the keys to be able to use it. It's a good idea to keep an extra set in your shelter area.
  • Cell Phone
    If there is phone service, you will certainly want your phone. However, remember that cell phone service may be interrupted after a tornado or other disaster!

Other Things To Consider

If you have a safe room or other shelter area, you might consider storing important papers and other irreplaceable items in the shelter if space permits.

Check and replace batteries in your weather radio, flashlights and other devices in your safety kit often, preferably twice a year. Do this at the same time you set clocks back/ahead in the spring and fall, and when you replace smoke detector batteries. Check you disaster supplies kit often, as well to maintain fresh food and water, etc. Remember that your disaster supplies kit could also be critical in other types of disasters, including winter storms, etc.

Make sure you have something to cover up with. Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, a mattress could help to protect you from falling/flying debris. Above all protect your head, neck and upper body. Wear a helmet (bicycle, football, baseball, motorcycle, hard hat, etc) if you have one. If there's room, lie flat and cover up. Otherwise, get as low to the ground as possible and make as small a target as possible.

Unfortunately, there are no safety rules - absolute safety facts that will keep you safe 100% of the time. Instead, we offer guidelines for personal safety. The vast majority of tornadoes are weak and don't last very long. By following the guidelines included in this document, you and your family can survive a tornado. These tornado safety guidelines should reduce - but will not totally eliminate - your chances of being seriously injured or killed in a tornado.

The good news is that you can survive most tornadoes. The key to survival is planning - knowing what you need to do to be safe before a tornado threatens.

To find out what to do in certain situations in order to stay safe, go to the Basics of Severe Weather Safety page.


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