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Tornado Quick Reference Guide


Be alert to changing weather conditions!

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.

Look for approaching storms!

Look for the following danger signs:

  • Dark, often greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train

If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, BE PREPARED TO TAKE SHELTER!

High-Rise Buildings

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level.
  • If there is no basement, go to a small interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.  Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • DO NOT open windows.
  • DO NOT use elevators because the power may fail, leaving you trapped.

Outside with No Shelter

  • Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.  Be aware of the potential for flooding.
  • DO NOT get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • NEVER try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck.  If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.  Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.  Be aware of the potential for flooding.
  • Watch OUT for flying debris.  Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.