What To Do In Case of a Tornado


What is a tornado?

A tornado is nature's most violent storm. They are spawned from powerful thunderstorms. They can uproot trees and buildings, turn harmless objects into deadly missiles.

A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.

How do I prepare for tornadoes?

  • Know the terms used to describe tornado threats.
    • TORNADO WATCH - Tornadoes are possible. Stay tuned to radio or television reports
    • TORNADO WARNING - A tornado has been sighted. Take shelter immediately.
    • SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH - Severe thunderstorms are possible.
    • SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING - Severe thunderstorms are occurring.
  • Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with battery backup and tone-alert feature which automatically alerts you when a Watch or Warning is issued. Purchase a battery-powered commercial radio and extra batteries as well.
  • Determine places to seek shelter. If an underground shelter is not available, identify an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
  • Practice going to your shelter with your family.
  • Know the locations of designated shelters in places where you and your family spend time, such as public buildings, nursing homes and shopping centers.
  • Have emergency supplies on hand.
  • Make an inventory of your possessions. Take photographs of or videotape your belongings.

What should I do during a tornado watch?

  • Listen to NOAA radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
  • Be alert for approaching storms. If you see any revolving funnel-shaped clouds, report them immediately by telephone to your local police department or sheriff's office.
  • Be ready to take shelter.

What should I do during a tornado?

  • When a tornado has been sighted, go to your shelter immediately. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.
  • In a house or small building, go to the basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to an interior room on the lower level (closets, interior hallways). Get under a sturdy table, hold on and protect your head. Stay there until the danger has passed.
  • In a school, nursing home, hospital, factory or shopping center, go to predesignated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually safest. Stay away from windows and open spaces.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small, interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • In a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to a more substantial structure.
  • If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine or culvert with your hands shielding your head.
  • In a car, get out and take shelter in a nearby building. Do not attempt to out-drive a tornado. They are erratic and move swiftly.

What should I do after a tornado?

  • Look out for broken glass and downed power lines.
  • Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.


Presented by:

City-Parish of Lafayette, Office of Emergency Preparedness,
Lafayette, Louisiana