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Tornados can form with little to no warning and leave in their wake a path of destruction. It is important that every individual is prepared for such an event. When a tornado is imminent, you have only a short amount of time to act. Advanced planning and quick response are the keys to surviving a tornado.

Tornado Danger Signs

  • Tornadoes can form from any thunderstorm and touch down with little or no advance warning.
  • An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado, even if a funnel is not visible
  • Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down, and the air may become very still.
  • Tornados generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm, so it is often possible to see clear, sunlit skies behind the funnel.

During a Tornado

  • Go at once to a windowless interior room (bathroom or closet) or inner hallway without windows on the lowest level of the building.
  • Get away from the windows.
  • Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it. Otherwise use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • Gather emergency supplies and listen to a local radio or television station for further information.

At Work or School

  • Go to a windowless, interior room (bathroom, closet or hallway) at the lowest level of the building.
  • Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • Stay out of structures with wide free-span roofs like auditoriums, gyms, cafeterias, and shopping centers.
  • Stay away from windows and glass doors.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to a local station, and follow emergency instructions.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

In a Car or Outside

Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter. Do not seek shelter under an overpass or bridge. If caught outside or in a vehicle, get inside a nearby building if possible. If not, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your arms. Be aware of flying debris and rising water.

Enhanced Fujita Tornado Damage Scale

EF0: Light Damage (65-85 mph)
Peels surface off some roofs; some damage to gutters or siding; branches broken off trees; shallow rooted trees pushed over.

EF1: Moderate Damage (86-110 mph)
Roofs severely stripped; mobile homes overturned or badly damaged; loss of exterior doors; windows and other glass broken.

EF2: Considerable Damage (111-135 mph)
Roofs torn off well-constructed houses; foundations of frame homes shifted; mobile homes completely destroyed; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated; cars lifted off ground.

EF3: Severe Damage (136-165 mph)
Entire stories of well-constructed houses destroyed; severe damage to large buildings such as shopping malls; trains overturned; trees debarked; heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown; structures with weak foundations blown away some distance.

EF4: Devastating Damage (166-200 mph)
Well-constructed houses and whole frame houses completely leveled; cars thrown and small missiles generated.

EF5: Incredible Damage (more than 200 mph)
Strong frame houses leveled off foundations and swept away; automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 mph; high-rise buildings have significant structural deformation. So far only one EF5 tornado has been recorded since the Enhanced Fujita Scale was introduced on February 1, 2007.

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