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Plan & Prepare

Tornadoes: What to do After a Tornado

(Much of the information on this page is adapted from information provided by the American Red Cross, FEMA and the National Weather Service).

After The Storm Passes

  • Help injured or trapped persons. Give first aid when appropriate. Do not try to move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • Check on neighbors who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with disabilities. People who care for them or have large families may need additional assistance caring for several people in emergency situations.
  • Continue listening to local radio or TV stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. Access may be limited to some parts of the community, or roads may be blocked.
  • Call for help, if needed. Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines and report them immediately. Reporting potential hazards will get the utilities turned off as quickly as possible, preventing further hazard and injury.
  • Do not use matches in a storm ravaged area until all gas lines are checked for leaks. Keep flashlights and plenty of batteries at hand.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, or gasoline or other flammable liquids.
  • Take pictures of the damage - both to the house and its contents - for insurance purposes.

Inspecting Utilities In A Damaged Home

  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice!
  • Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
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New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
P. O. Box 7068
Trenton, NJ 08628


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