Tips to Prepare for Tornado Season

Tips to Prepare for Tornado Season
Posted on 02/28/2022

Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 7–11. Here are some tips on how to be prepared and safety measures to consider if a tornado does strike, collected by the Lenexa Fire Department’s Battalion Chief for Emergency Management, Randy Pommenville.

Plan a family tornado drill

Practicing where to go in the event of a tornado can help keep everyone in your household on the same page regarding how to stay safe. During your drill, discuss which rooms in your home or apartment building are the safest during a tornado. 

If your home has a basement, you should seek shelter there, avoid windows and use sturdy protection as cover. Some suggestions to increase protection would be to get under a heavy table and use cushions, a mattress or sleeping bags to shield against falling or flying debris

If you do not have a basement, or if you live in a high-rise and cannot get to one, you still have a few options for finding a safe space. Go to the lowest floor, or a small center room without windows, like a bathroom or closet. Other options include going under stairwells or to an interior hallway. Cover yourself with something like a mattress or blankets that can act as padding against debris.

Man trimming trees

Prepare your home

Tornadoes can happen at any time of the year. However, peak tornado season in the United States is in the spring and summer, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory — typically early spring on the Gulf Coast, from May into early June in the Southern Plains and June and July in the upper Midwest and northern Plains.

However, that does not mean you should wait for peak tornado season to make your home secure. Many of these preparations can be time consuming and may require the work of a professional. Beneficial home preparations include:

  • Trimming diseased or dead trees
  • Installing window shutters
  • Strengthening garage doors
  • Signing up for local weather alerts at

If you have time before a tornado or severe storm approaches, move or secure other loose items, such as lawn furniture that may become a projectile during high winds.

Emergency kit

Pack an emergency kit

If a tornado touches down in your area, power might be knocked out. It might be a few days before you have electricity and clean running water in your home. It is a good idea to prepare a basic emergency kit in advance of peak tornado season for everyone in your household. recommends an all-purpose emergency kit should include at least one gallon of water per person in your household per day for at least three days and enough food for each person to last at least three days. also recommends storing a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, as well as a NOAA Weather Radio so you can stay up to date on tornado movements and receive information when it is safe to leave your shelter. You may also want to include a flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies and local maps in your emergency kit.

Know the difference between a watch and a warning

Knowing the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning is part of being prepared. A tornado watch means that tornadoes are possible in the area. In a tornado warning, a tornado has been sighted. This is a time for action, as you should find shelter immediately.

Know what not to do 

If a tornado is coming to your area, don’t wait to take shelter. It is not safe to go outside and check on the storm or even watch it from inside. If a tornado is near, avoid windows. Get into an interior room in the lowest level of your home. If you lose power, use flashlights instead of candles.

Driving car in rain

Stay safe on the road 

If you are in a car when a tornado is spotted, pull over and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If that is not possible, you have a few other options. Stay in the parked car with your seat belt on, and keep your head below the windows. Next, cover your head with your hands and a coat or blanket.

Avoid seeking shelter under a bridge or overpass! Flying debris can become dangerous projectiles. In addition, the passage underneath the overpass may increase the wind speed, potentially making it an unsafe location to seek shelter. 

If you find yourself outside of the car during a tornado, lie flat on the ground with your face down and your hands and arms protecting the back of your head. If possible, get to an area that is lower than the roadway, such as a ditch.

Look for damage after a tornado

Just because the outside appears calm does not automatically mean its safe to leave your shelter. When a tornado is in your area, recommends staying sheltered until the tornado warning has expired. 

When you do have the all clear to leave your shelter, you will need to check for any damage to your home, vehicle and other property.

Use caution when inspecting your property, and contact the authorities if: 

  • Debris is preventing you from exiting your home.
  • You see downed power lines.
  • You think there is a safety issue with the utilities, such as a potential gas leak or fire hazard.

Published February 28, 2022