Tornadoes can occur at any time of year. In the southern states, peak tornado activity usually occurs in March through May. Northern states see more tornadoes during the summer. These twisters are most likely to strike between 3 and 9 p.m., but can occur at any hour.
Shop the Red Cross Store for all your preparedness needs.
The American Red Cross wants you and your loved ones to stay safe should a tornado hit your area. Follow these important safety rules about tornadoes:
Prepare a home tornado plan
- Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, 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 go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit
- First aid kit and essential medications.
- Canned food and can opener.
- At least three gallons of water per person.
- Protective clothing, bedding, or sleeping bags.
- Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
- Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
- 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.)
Stay tuned for storm warnings
View the BRCR module
- Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
- Know what a tornado WATCH and WARNING means:
- 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.
Tornado WATCH is issued
- Listen to local radio and TV stations for further updates.
- Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.
Tornado WARNING is issued
- If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area.
- 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 (as above).
After a tornado
- Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.
- Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
- Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.
- Do not use candles at any time.
For more information on tornadoes and other preparedness tips, check out the Preparedness section of RedCross.org .
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; 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 humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.