What to Do - Tornadoes

Tornadoes are violent, rotating storms with winds that can exceed 300 miles per hour. The product of thunderstorms and sometimes hurricanes, tornadoes can be highly destructive. Injuries or deaths from tornadoes most often are due to collapsed buildings, flying objects, or people caught trying to outrun the moving funnel cloud.


Terms to Know

Tornado Watch - A tornado watch means that tornados are possible in the area. Stay tuned to radio or TV and watch the sky and weather conditions.

Tornado Warning - This means that a tornado has be been sighted and reported. Take cover at once.

Preparing for a Tornado

  • Designate a shelter area in your home. Basements for storm cellars are the safest. Otherwise, us an interior room or hallway on the ground floor.
  • Practice getting to your home shelter area.
  • If you live in a mobile home home, find a sturdy building nearby where you can take shelter. Mobile homes offer little protection in a tornado.
  • Contact the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency to find out if there are any public safe rooms or shelters nearby.
  • Know the locations of designated shelter areas in places like schools and shopping centers.

During a Tornado Watch

  • Stay tuned to radio or TV for updates.
  • Be prepared to take shelter at any time, since some tornadoes develop so quickly that advance warning is impossible.
  • Watch the sky for funnel-shaped clouds and pay attention to tornado danger signs - dark, greenish sky, large hail and a loud roar similar to the sound of a freight train.
  • Stay out of large, flat buildings with wide open areas such as supermarkets, box stores and shopping malls.
  • Stock your home shelter area with a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, water and a first aid kit.

During a Tornado Warning

  • Head for the designated shelter or a central area on the lowest floor of a nearby building.
  • In a high-rise, get to the lowest floor possible and go to an interior room.
  • Leave vehicles and mobile homes at once. Seek shelter in a sturdy building.
  • If you are caught outside, lie flat in a ditch and cover your head. Do not get under bridges or overpasses.
  • Never attempt to outrun a tornado.

After a Tornado

  • Watch out for debris - especially broken glass - and downed electric lines.
  • Be careful when entering a tornado-damaged structure. Make sure the walls and roof are in place and the foundation is sound.