Tornadoes: Safety Tips and Ways to Help


By Stephanie Heckman, Red Cross Public Relations Intern

As recent events in Oklahoma and Texas have shown us, tornadoes can strike anytime and anywhere. Midwestern states, like our lovely home state of Ohio, are particularly susceptible to tornadoes. Weather patterns can change rapidly and disasters happen overnight. The best time to prepare is long before you ever hear tornado warnings.

 Follow these tips to keep your family safe:

  • Print the Tornado Safety checklist to keep in a visible place.  
  • Always keep updated on local weather. Follow your Red Cross region on Twitter.
  • Download the Red Cross tornado app. The app alerts you with a high-pitched siren when a tornado warning has been issued.
  • Watch out for tornado signs like dark clouds, debris, hail, funnel clouds or a loud, roaring noise.
  • Select a safe room such as a basement, cellar or a lower-level room with no windows.
  • Mobile homes are not safe – evacuate to a nearby shelter or sturdy building immediately.
  • Find out your community’s warning system and teach it to your children.
  • Practice a tornado drill with roommates, family, children and companion animals.
  • Remove weak or damaged limbs from trees – these can easily fall on homes during strong wind.
  • Move lawn furnitures, trash cans, hanging plants and other objects before storms hit.
  • If caught on the road during a tornado warning, try to seek shelter immediately. If you notice flying debris, pull over, move below window-level and cover your head with your hands.

How to recover after a tornado or powerful storm:

  • Continue following local news for updated information and instructions.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy shoes to examine homes for damage.
  • Report fallen power lines or broken gas lines to the utility company.
  • Use battery-powdered flashlights – NOT candles – to examine buildings.
  • If you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, open a window and get out of the building immediately.
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or flammable liquids.
  • Keep children and companion animals under close watch.
  • Check for injuries and provide first aid until emergency responders arrive.
  • Register as “safe and well” and search registrants if you are worried about a friend or relative.

If you would like to help survivors of the Oklahoma tornadoes and other natural disasters, please make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Go to, call 1-800-Red Cross or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Other ways to help people affected by disaster include donating blood and becoming a volunteer. Blood donations can be scheduled by visiting or calling 1-800-Red Cross. Red Cross volunteers can serve during disasters, help their local community chapter, organize blood drives or raise awareness. Search for volunteer opportunities today.

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