A thin funnel extends down from the dark sky. The swirling whirlwind touches the ground and charges forward.
Spring provides sunny days and chirping birds. But it is the beginning of the tornado season, which reaches its peak in April and lasts until June.
Prepare now to be safe before, during and after a tornado.
Before the tornado
A tornado clock means that the current conditions can lead to a tornado in your area. Move your emergency package to your shelter or basement if you do not store it there.
Talk to your wireless operator about Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). With these warnings active on your phone, you will be notified when a severe storm is in the area.
Ready.gov says you should have these items in a disaster package:
- Canned opener
- Closed shoes
- Dust masks
- First aid kit
- Important papers (Social card, birth certificate, insurance information)
- Pet materials (food, leash, carrier)
- Phone, computer and charger
- Portable weather radio
- Three days supply of food
- Three days water supply (one gallon per person per day)
Home inventory list
A tornado can damage your home and the things you own. You do not want to guess when you report values to your insurance company.
Use an app like Sortly or Encircle to create a home inventory list. Or take pictures with your phone and write details in a notebook.
Keep a copy of your home inventory list in a safe place outside your home and give a second copy to your insurance agent.
Have you recently renovated your home? This can include completion of the basement, remodeling of the kitchen or updating of electrical systems.
Report these changes to your insurance agent to keep your homeowner̵7;s coverage up to date. When you do not share these updates, you do not get the full value of the home in the event of a total loss.
During the tornado
What happens when a tornado is seen in your area? A tornado warning is issued, and you should move quickly to bring your pets and yourself inside.
Go to the basement, a small inner room or a hall on the lowest level. If possible, crouch under a heavy table or stairs.
Avoid the corners of the room and stay away from windows. Strong winds can shatter glass and cause severe cuts and other serious injuries.
A tornado can lift a camper and throw it a few miles. This is because this type of home is not rooted in a foundation.
It is better to seek protection under a sturdy structure if there is one nearby. Avoid taking shelter under trees. If you have nowhere else to go, lie down in a culvert or ditch with your hands protecting your head.
Leave your car when a twister breaks out. Try to find protection or a deep depression in the ground. Do not stop under a bridge or highway tunnel, as these can fall apart and create falling debris.
Tornadoes move as fast as 60 to 70 mph. They also change direction, so do not try to drive away from them in your car.
Most schools are large enough to offer reliable protection against tornadoes. The inner corridors and stairwells offer protection from strong winds and debris.
Rubbish travels through large areas such as gyms and cafes, so try to avoid them. Never go out to playgrounds or parking lots and always follow the school’s storm safety routines.
The danger increases when you move up in a building. Seek protection at the lowest level without overcrowding.
After the tornado
Getting through the aftermath
Hopefully the tornado goes through and does minimal damage to your community. Keep an eye on your local weather channel during this time. You need to know if another storm may appear soon.
Check your surroundings, but do not treat serious injuries if you are not qualified. Only administer CPR if you are trained to do so.
When you are done, reach out to your family and friends via text message or social media. The weather can prevent your calls from going through.
You can also register yourself and your family on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website.
Inspect your property
If you are at home, inspect your property for damages such as:
- Discontinued power lines (stay away from them but report the problem to your electricity company)
- Fragmented wires, sparks and other signs of electrical damage
- Gas leaks
- Spilled medicine, petrol and other flammable liquids
- Structural collapses
When you know your family is safe, contact your insurance agent to report damage.
Do not wait for a storm to strike. Review your homeowners insurance with your local Pekin Insurance agent and make sure you have enough coverage.