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How to prepare for a tornado

  • An approaching cloud of debris can indicate a tornado, even if you cannot see a funnel. The wind may die and the air can be quite still before a tornado.
  • Tornadoes can occur anywhere in and generally last less than one hour (seconds to minutes is the most likely).

Tornado watch vs. warning

  • A tornado watch means conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms with one or more tornadoes.
  • A tornado warning means a tornado has been reported; or when there is reliable evidence based on radar or a reliable spotter that a tornado is imminent.

Staying safe during a tornado

  • Take shelter in the basement or lowest level of your home or building immediately:
    • Find a small interior room with no windows, like a closet or under the stairs, and stay near the wall under a sturdy piece of furniture.
    • Put as many walls as possible between yourself and the outside for protection.
  • If you are instructed to evacuate, bring your 72-hour emergency kit and emergency contact list to the reception centre or shelter.
  • If you are outside and can't get indoors, find a low-lying area like a ditch. Cover your head with your hands and avoid overpasses or bridges.
  • Be aware of debris and flying objects.
  • Avoid buildings with large-span roofs such as shopping malls and auditoriums.
  • If you are in a car, do not try to outrun a tornado. Leave your vehicle immediately and find an indoor shelter or low-lying area like a ditch.
  • If you are in a mobile home, leave immediately as they offer little protection from tornadoes. Get to the lowest point inside the closest safe, sturdy building.

After a tornado

  • Follow the instructions of the authorities.
    • Check in at any reception centres or shelters that have been set up so you can be accounted for and reunified with any missing family members.
  • Do not go into damaged areas. There may be structural damage that may or may not be visible.
    • Be aware that debris can present hazards – tripping, puncture wounds, collapsing structures, etc.
    • Watch for sharp objects like nails and glass.
    • Injuries due to tornadoes are often caused after the tornado has ended, when walking among and cleaning up debris.
  • Watch out for downed power lines or ruptured gas lines. If you smell natural gas, get away from the source and notify authorities of a gas leak.
  • Check to see if you or others are injured.
    • Do not move seriously injured or trapped people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury (such as from a collapsing structure).
    • Seek medical assistance for them as soon as possible.
  • Stay informed:
    • Continue to monitor local weather information, preferably from battery-powered or wind-up radios.
    • Use battery powered lights or lanterns, rather than candles, to light a home.
  • Use battery powered lights or lanterns, rather than candles, to light a home. Open flames can be dangerous if gas lines are compromised.
  • Never use generators, camp stoves, or other fuel-burning appliances inside.
    • Carbon monoxide, a clear, colorless, and odourless gas, can be emitted from these appliances and causes illness or death.
    • Open flames can be dangerous if gas lines are compromised.