What to Do After a Tornado

If you do nothing else:
1. Let friends and family know you’re safe. Register yourself as safe on the Safe and Well website.

2. If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.

3. Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.

4. Check for injuries. If you are trained, provide first aid to persons in need until emergency responders arrive.

Caring for Yourself and Loved Ones

  • Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress.
  • Promote emotional recovery by following these tips.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Help people who require additional assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.

Returning Home Safely

  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
  • Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities and systems after a tornado.
  • Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes.

Cleaning and Repairing Your Home

  • Wear protective clothing, including long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes, and be cautious.
  • Learn more about how to clean up after a tornado, including the supplies you’ll need and how to handle fire hazards such as gas, electricity, and chemicals.
  • Don’t just repair your home; build in tornado-resistant features to help protect against future damage.
  • Strengthen existing garage doors to improve the wind resistance, particularly double-wide garage doors.
  • If your home has been significantly damaged and will require rebuilding parts or all of it, consider building a safe room.

Ask a professional to:

  • Look at common connections in wood frame buildings and add anchors, clips, and straps to strengthen your home.
  • Reinforce masonry walls that provide structural support to your home.
  • Secure your chimney. Masonry chimneys that extend more than six feet above the roof or have a width of 40 inches or more should have continuous vertical reinforcing steel placed in the corners to provide greater resistance to wind loads.
  • Permanently connect your manufactured home to its foundation.

Power Outage Safety

If electrical power lines are down, don’t touch them. Keep your family and pets away. Report downed lines to your utility company.

Use a flashlight; do not use candles during a power outage due to extreme risk of fire.

Caution – Carbon Monoxide Kills!

When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system. If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need. Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Read more about using generators safely.

The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating, or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, and fire. Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide. If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Throw Out Unsafe Food

Throw away any food (particularly meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that has been exposed to temperatures higher than 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out! Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can start growing quickly. Some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking. If you are not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer. If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.



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