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What to do during a tornado

Tornados generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. If you see a tornado approaching, you have a short window in which to make decisions. Knowing the basics of tornado safety, planning ahead and holding an annual tornado drill lowers the chance of injury or death if a tornado strikes.

How do I prepare for a tornado?

  1. Be aware of changing weather conditions. Listen to local radio or television stations for weather updates. Stay informed by subscribing to Alberta Emergency Alerts.
  2. Know the danger signs. Hail in a severe thunderstorm is a strong indicator of a potential tornado. An approaching cloud of debris can also indicate a tornado, even if you can’t see a funnel. The wind may die and the air can be quite still before a tornado.
  3. Take First Aid and CPR training so that you can help family members if injuries occur.
  4. Make a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit. This kit will support you and your family for up to three days in the event of an emergency.
  5. Know where to go. The safest place to be is in a basement, in an inner hallway or a small room without windows. During a tornado, seek the safest location available.

Where do I go during a tornado?

At home, head to the basement with your family members and 72-hour kit. Under the stairs or in a closet are good options. Stay away from windows so you are not injured by glass or debris.

At school, work or a store, seek shelter in the lowest level of the building. Stay near interior walls and avoid windows and open areas.

Outside, try to find the closest available indoor shelter. If none is available, find a low-lying area such as a ditch. Cover your head with your hands. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

In a car, do not try to outrun a tornado. If you see a funnel cloud or hear a tornado warning issued, get out of your vehicle and find a safe shelter. If none is available, find a low-lying area such as a ditch.

What should I do after a tornado?

  1. Follow the instructions of the authorities. Check in at any reception or emergency centres that have been set up so you can be accounted for and reunified with any missing family members.
  2. Do not go into damaged areas, if possible. There may be structural damage that may or may not be visible. Be aware that debris can present hazards – tripping, puncture wounds, collapsing structures, etc. Watch for sharp objects like nails and glass. Injuries due to tornadoes are often caused after the tornado has ended, when walking among and cleaning up debris.
  3. Watch out for downed power lines or ruptured gas lines. If you smell natural gas, get away from the source and notify authorities of a gas leak.
  4. Check to see if you or others are injured. Do not move seriously injured or trapped people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury (such as from a collapsing structure). Seek medical assistance for them as soon as possible.
  5. Stay informed. Continue to monitor local weather information, preferably from battery-powered or wind-up radios. Use battery powered lights or lanterns, rather than candles, to light a home. Open flames can be dangerous if gas lines are compromised. Never use generators, campstoves, or other fuel-burning appliances inside. Carbon monoxide, a clear, colorless, and odourless gas, can be emitted from these appliances and causes illness or death.