Prepare Your Family for a Tornado


Tornadoes can strike at any time, and although we usually have the luxury of a couple of days notice before a hurricane storm arrives, the same can’t be said for tornad0-producing storms.

A tornado may strike when your family is separated, so it’s important that you have an emergency plan in place so that all members of your family can stay in contact and get back together as soon as possible. You really need to have a plan for all eventualities for when the next tornado arrives.


Family Tornado Emergency Plan

In order to ensure your family is ready in the event of a tornado, it’s best to figure out all of the following information before the disaster strikes.

  • Family Tornado Contact Number: You and your family need to identify a contact who is ideally out-of-town. It could very well be easier to make an out-of-state or long distance telephone call than to call someone across town who is very possibly going through the same tornado difficulties as you are. A separate, out-of-town contact means that any members of your family who have become separated can keep in contact with everyone else through the “go-between.” Make sure that all members of your family know who the contact is, and of course, their telephone number.
  • Cell Phone/Pre-paid Telephone Card: Of course, it’s no use knowing the telephone number of the out-of-town tornado contact if not every member of the family has either a cell phone, a pre-paid telephone card, or the right coins to make an emergency telephone call. It’s always a good idea to program a few telephone numbers into your cell phone under “ICE” (in case of emergency). If you are involved in an accident, then the emergency services will search through your ICE numbers to get hold of somebody you know. Don’t forget to tell your family or friends who are listed as ICE.
  • Text Messages/SMS: Even if phone lines are down, text messages will often get through a network when a telephone call can’t.
  • Tornado Meeting Place: You and your family need to identify a safe place where you will be able to meet up if you are separated during an emergency tornado situation. I’ve already said that the tornado is unlikely to wait until you are all conveniently together before wreaking havoc on your neighborhood. Make sure that you have a plan, that you all know the plan, and that you can all keep to the plan.
  • Alert Services: Emergency alert services are there to keep you fully informed, so use them! There are different alert services springing up in communities around the country. Sign up and keep informed about all of the latest tornado report information about things like road closures, bad weather, local emergencies, etc.


Family Tornado Evacuation Plans

Tornadoes throw up all sorts of problems, one of being the old “should I stay or should I go” routine. You really need to have a family tornado plan for both eventualities. Use your common sense and any available information (from the alert services!), watch the TV, listen to the radio, check the internet and make sure that you stay well-informed.

Hurricanes, tornadoes and tropical storms can mean that the evacuation of a whole community is the only answer, and it happens a lot more regularly than you might think.

When it’s time to go and a whole community is evacuated because of a tornado disaster, then it’s down to the officials to tell everyone in the neighborhood that it’s time to leave. Various methods are used: television reports, radio, loud speakers, telephone calls, and sirens. It doesn’t matter whether you are at work, at school, at home or shopping in the mall, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.

Bear in mind that if you are going to have to leave your home during a tornado emergency, the sooner, the better for all concerned (and don’t forget your pets). If you leave it too late, then you may have to rely upon the emergency services to evacuate you and may be unable to save any valuables, pets, etc.

Tornado evacuations are just one cause of people having to leave their homes, but transport or industrial accidents which release harmful substances can also ultimately end up with people having to leave their homes for their own safety. Floods and fire cause frequent evacuations too, whether or not it all started with a hurricane, tornado or tropical storm.

Local authorities (especially in areas of high risk) will have an evacuation plan with their emergency routes all planned out, why not ask for a map (before the tornado hits).


Tornado Evacuation Plan Guidelines

Whether the evacuation is caused by a tornado or indeed any other disaster, there are guidelines which need to be followed to make everything run as smoothly and as safely as possible.

  • Full Tank of Gas: Keep your car gas tank topped up. If you have to evacuate by car and the gas stations are closed because of the tornado emergency, then you aren’t gonna get far, are you? Remember to pick up your disaster supply kit if you have the time.
    • If you don’t have a car, you’ll need to find a back-up plan B. See if you can make arrangements with friends, neighbors, or even the local government in case of a tornado emergency.
  • Wear the Right Clothes: If at all possible, make sure that you are wearing the right kind of gear to keep yourself warm, comfortable, and dry. It might be difficult if you’re caught in your PJs in the middle of the night, but do try to think ahead and wear long pants, long sleeves and even a cap for protection if you possibly have the time.
  • Follow the Plan: Gather up your family as quickly as possible and evacuate the area immediately according to the tornado evacuation plan. Don’t forget to tell family or friends where you are heading.
  • Follow Directions: Always follow the tornado evacuation instructions. Even if the power is out, you can listen to emergency broadcasts on a battery-powered radio.


  • Lock Up: Don’t forget to secure your home, lock all of the doors and windows (hopefully you’ll have already installed some hurricane shutters to the windows), unplug anything electrical except for freezers and refrigerators — unless there’s a high risk of flooding.
  • Drive Safely: Don’t drive through flooded areas. Listen to the tornado evacuation information at all times for up-to-date information about the areas which are most affected and the areas which can be traversed safely.
  • Avoid Obstacles: Keep well clear of downed power lines during a tornado evacuation.
  • Move Quickly and Safely: During a tornado evacuation, try to move as quickly and as safely as possible. Remember, there won’t be just you trying to make the great escape; there’ll be the whole neighborhood trying to get away at the same time. Remain calm, move quickly, and above all, be safe!

The key to a safe tornado evacuation plan is planning ahead. Remain calm, be efficient, and prepare ahead. This will ensure your evacuation is well-organized, just like a tornado evacuation ought to be.


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