Tornado Safety

Tornadoes may strike quickly, with little or no warning and the most important part of tornado safety is being prepared. Be alert to changing weather conditions and know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. Consider subscribing to alerts from your local television stations, the National Weather Service or downloading a mobile application, such as Ready Virginia.

  • Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

What to do if you are inside:
The safest place during a tornado is the interior part of a basement. If your home does not have a basement, go to an interior room without windows on the lowest possible floor.

In an office building or school, go to an interior hallway on a lower floor or a designated shelter area that provides a buffer from strong winds and flying debris, such as a center hallway, bathroom, or closet.

Stay inside until you are certain the storm has passed.

What to do if you are outside:
The strength and path of a tornado is unpredictable and if you are outside as a tornado approaches, seek shelter in a sturdy structure immediately.

During a tornado, if possible drive to a nearby shelter but do not attempt to outrun the tornado in your vehicle. High winds and flying debris can affect driving conditions, which may require that you leave your car and find a ditch or low area that is away from trees and other objects that could become projectiles. Do not seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass. Remember, many injuries sustained during a tornado are associated with flying debris and high winds; it is important to protect your head and neck as much as possible.

What to do if you are in a mobile home:
Do not remain in mobile homes during tornadoes, leave immediately and seek shelter in the basement of a nearby building. Even mobile homes with tie-downs may overturn during a tornado.

Because tornadoes can occur with little, if any, warning, every second is important. Be prepared, have an emergency plan and practice tornado drills frequently with your family to make sure everyone knows the safest place to seek shelter. Information to help you and your family to prepare an emergency plan is available: