Severe Weather Safety Rules

With severe weather expected soon, now is a good time for a refresher on tornado safety.  Practice your safety rules, teach others what to do, and check on the elderly or those in your care that depend on you for help.

First, let's review the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning:

  • A tornado watch means that conditions are becoming favorable for possible tornado development within the next several hours, so watch the sky for developing thunderstorms.  Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television, for the latest weather statements or warnings. 
    This is the perfect time to leave mobile homes and stay with friends or family that have a sturdy building.

  • A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.  Persons in the path of the storm need to find shelter immediately--preferably in a sturdy building, and below ground if possible.

Remember, tornadoes can sometimes develop rapidly.  If you see or hear a tornado, or if you feel threatened, move immediately to shelter.  Seconds can save your life!


Tornado Safety Rules

  1. In homes or small buildings, go to the basement or to an interior room (such as a closet or bathroom) on the lowest level.  Get under something sturdy such as a heavy table or bed.
  2. In mobile homes or vehicles, abandon them and go to a sturdy structure.  If there is no such structure nearby, lie flat in a ditch, ravine, gully, culvert, or low spot, with your arms and hands shielding your head.
  3. In large buildings such as schools, factories, hospitals, nursing homes, and shopping centers, go to the predesignated shelter area.  Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually best.  Stay away from rooms that are large in area, because they usually have weakly supported roofs.
  4. In high-rise buildings, go to an interior small room or hallway.
  5. Stay away from windows!  Don't bother opening or closing them--it won't make any difference to the structure, and you'll waste time or put yourself at risk should glass break when you are nearby. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.