Here’s guidance from the National Weather Service (NWS)1, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)2, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)3 to help you prepare for tornadoes in your area.

  1. Know your area’s risk. Tornadoes can happen anytime and anywhere, but the Midwest and Southwest are at greater risk.4 You can find current tornado information on the NWS storm prediction center , opens new window.
  2. Make a plan. Create a plan with the steps your family will take in response to a tornado. This should include knowing the best place to shelter in your home5—such as an interior, lower level room without windows, or the basement.
  3. Recognize warnings and alerts. Become familiar with your community’s tornado warnings and alerts. It is important in all disasters that you recognize your community’s warning system.

    NWS definitions , opens new window

    • Tornado Watch: A tornado is possible. Weather conditions favor thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes at this location.
    • Tornado Warning: A tornado is occurring or will occur shortly. Seek shelter immediately.
  4. Build a kit. Make sure you have a kit with essential supplies specifically for a tornado. This can include sleeping bags or pillows to use in a shelter, a flashlight and non-perishable food and water.
  5. Prepare your home.
    1. Arrange furniture so that chairs and beds are away from windows, mirrors and picture frames.
    2. Place heavy or large items on lower shelves.
    3. Secure large appliances where able with flexible cable, braided wire or metal strapping.
    4. Identify top-heavy or free-standing furniture that could topple. Secure it with L brackets or eye bolts.
    5. Install sliding bolts or childproof latches on cabinets.


  1. “National Weather Service safety tips,” last accessed April 19, 2021,, opens new window
  2. “Disaster information,” last accessed April 19, 2021,, opens new window
  3. “Natural disasters and severe weather,” last accessed April 19, 2021,, opens new window
  4. “Tornadoes,”, last accessed 4/13/2021, , opens new window
  5. “Tornado Safety,” American Red Cross, last accessed 3/31/2021, , opens new window