Plan & Prepare
Tornadoes: What to do Before 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).
Tornadoes: Basic Preparedness
As with other types of emergency, you should prepare yourself
and your family by creating an Emergency
Supply Kit and a Family
Disaster Plan. See NJOEM's Basic
Preparedness page for more details.
- Your Kit includes items that will help you stay
self-sufficient for up to three days, if needed.
- Your Plan includes evacuation plans, a place to
reunite with loved ones, and an out-of-state contact person.
Stay Tuned: Listen to NOAA
Weather Radio or your local radio and television
stations for weather updates, Storm Watches or Warnings,
and emergency instructions from public safety Officials. Remember:
A battery-powered radio is a vital part of your Emergency
Supply Kit. You can also track current weather conditions
available on our Current Weather/Traffic Web page.
Identify A Safe Place In Your Home
Pick a safe place where family members can 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. Make sure it is located
away from windows. Know where heavy objects rest
on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc)
and do not go under them - they may fall through a
Be ready to shelter yourself under sturdy protection,
such as a heavy table or workbench, or cover yourself with
a mattress or sleeping bag.
If you are in a high-rise building you may not have
time to go to the lowest floor! Pick a place in a hallway
in the center of the building.
Manufactured homes are particularly vulnerable. A
manufactured home can turn easily during a tornado, even if
you have tied down the unit. When a tornado warning is issued,
take shelter in a building with a strong foundation.
If shelter is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying
area a safe distance away from the unit.
Learn The Danger Signs
There is no substitute for watching the sky.
- Tornadoes sometimes have no visible funnel! An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if no funnel is visible.
- Tornadoes may be accompanied by hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
- There may be a loud, continuous roar or rumble that doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
- Look for a persistent lowering of the cloud base.
- At night look for small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by a very strong wind, possibly a tornado.
Watches And Warnings
The National Weather Service will issue a Tornado Watch
when tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for
approaching storms. This is the time to remind family members
where the safest places in your home are located, and listen
to the radio or television for updates or for instructions
from public safety officials.
A Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado has been
sighted or indicated by weather radar.