American Red Cross Shares Tornado Safety Tips

May 31, 2011 4:23:38 AM PDT
The American Red Cross is helping hundreds of people across the country, including those in Joplin, MO, that have experienced devastation due to extreme weather conditions by offering shelter, food, and a helping hand . This morning, a tornado watch is in effect for parts of Chicagoland and the American Red Cross has tips and a tornado safety checklist to ensure that your family will be as ready as possible when a tornado strikes. The peak time of year for tornadoes in the Midwest is March through May.

Tornado Safety Tips

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

The first step in preparing for any type of disaster is to assemble a disaster supplies kit, which should include the following items:

  • A first aid kit and any essential medications.
  • Special items for infants, the elderly or disabled.
  • Canned food and a can opener.
  • At least three gallons of water per person.
  • Protective clothing, bedding or sleeping bags.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)

Prepare a Home Tornado Plan

Pick a place where your family can gather if a tornado is headed your way. It can be a basement or a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered. If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to get to the lowest floor, so pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings

Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information and know the difference between a tornado WATCH and a tornado WARNING:

  • A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area.
  • A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.
  • Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county or parish.

When a Tornado WATCH is Issued

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations for further updates.
  • Pay attention to changing weather conditions. You may see blowing debris or hear the sound of an approaching tornado. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a Tornado WARNING is Issued

  • If you are inside, go to the safe place you designated to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects.
  • If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building, or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety.

After the Tornado Passes

  • Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of damaged areas.
  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
  • Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.
  • Do not use candles at any time.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization - not a government agency - and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at Follow us on twitter @chicagoredcross