Simplify Your Family's Emergency Preparedness

Tornado Safety Tips You Need to Review and Practice With Your Family

farmhouse caught up in a tornado.

Typically when we think about the possibility of tornadoes, most of us think about Kansas (thanks, “Wizard of Oz”) or anywhere between the two most prominent United States mountain ranges. But tornadoes can happen anywhere, and it’s important that you and your family know the tornado safety tips provided below.


Just like other emergency plans, there is plenty you can do to prepare for a tornado ahead of time. It’s important to review and practice with your loved ones on a regular basis. Keep reading to learn what you can do before, during, and after a tornado weather event.

**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?

If you don’t live somewhere that frequently experiences the threat of a tornado, it might be easy to just brush this aside. But it is important to know the difference between a watch and a warning.



This means that a tornado event is possible. Typically, a watch covers a large geographic area – multiple cities/counties and sometimes includes multiple states. The weather patterns are such that you should be aware of what’s going on and stay tuned in to your local forecast for updates.



This means that a tornado has touched down in a nearby area or a forecaster has spotted one on radar. Typically, a warning is given for a small geographic area – one city or county. If you are in an area where a warning has been given, you need to act quickly.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a great resource for staying up to date with current weather conditions.

Tornado Safety Tips to Review Before You Experience One

The following safety precautions would make for a great family night! Go through the list and have your family work together to prioritize which steps you will take now.

A couple notes about your safe room:

  • stay away from windows
  • it needs to be accessible in a hurry
  • watch out for objects that could fall over, like large bookcases or dressers (if they’re not secured to a wall)

A few years ago, my friend was jolted awake by a tornado warning at 4am. She describes hurriedly running upstairs to wake up her kids and hurrying them back downstairs to her bedroom closet. It’s the most interior room in their house and on first thought, it seemed pretty safe – until she started looking around and seeing all the tools and metal shelving that could easily injure her family, if those items were to become airborne. In a pinch, sure, it was safe-ish. But she definitely made her husband clear out the saws, nails, and hammers after that early morning scare.


Just be aware of potential hazards that could make the situation worse.

contents of a personalized 72 hour kit.

Tornado Safety Tips for During an Event

Tip #1

Stay informed of local weather conditions.
This is why keeping your cell phone charged is so important. There are so many free alerts (they even come pre-installed on your phone) – choose the ones you like best and make sure your notifications are on.

I also highly recommend having a weather radio. We love this weather radio (affiliate link); it has AM/FM, as well as all 7 NOAA Weather Radio frequencies, with an “Alert” function that automatically broadcasts any emergency weather alerts for your area. It has hand crank and solar backup power, and can even charge your cell phone, and has a built-in flashlight and alarm clock. It is incredibly affordable, and I love knowing we have this in our home.

Tip #2

Avoid windows, if possible.

They have the potential to shatter, and you don’t want to be dealing with someone cut by shards of flying glass in the middle of a stressful weather event.

Tip #3

Get everyone to your safe room – and don’t forget your pets!

Tip #4

If you are outside and cannot get indoors, locate the nearest substantial shelter, get down as low as possible, and cover your head and neck with your hands to protect them from flying debris.

Tip #5

If you are at school or work, follow the tornado safety procedures as instructed.

Tip #6

If you are in a car, do not try to outrun the tornado! Evacuate your car and get to the lowest-lying area possible. A roadside ditch or shelter is a good thing to look for.

Tip #7

Remain in your safe space until notified by emergency personnel/forecasters that it is safe to move around.

Tip #8

Stay Calm!

I know this one can be super tough, but especially if you’re hunkering down with kids or weather-anxious people, you can be the voice of reason and help. For tips and ideas to help anxious kids feel prepared for scary situations, check out this recent blog post.

What to do After a Tornado Strikes

As with any weather emergency, there are a few things you need to be mindful of after you’re out of the path of tornado destruction.

Final Thoughts on Tornado Safety

Don’t think that just because you don’t live in Middle America, you’ll never experience a tornado. You never know when your best friend will move to Ohio and you’ll find yourself hunkered down on a quick weekend visit. And did you hear about the tornado that went through Salt Lake City in 1999? Yep, right in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. 


You don’t need to be afraid; just make sure you know what to do before, during, and after a tornado event. If you’re ready to tackle 72-hour kits, food storage, or some other preparedness task, you might want to check out my Personalized Preparedness Membership. I’ll even help you choose the best path forward based on your current priorities.

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