How to prepare for a tornado

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 2023 saw 1,423 tornadoes in the U.S., with 83 fatalities. And while the top states for tornado activity remain in the Midwest and Central Plains, any area can experience high-force winds that cause damage to your home. Know how to prepare your home for the high winds of a tornado, where to go to seek shelter before a storm strikes, and what to do during the storm.

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Before it strikes: How to prepare for a tornado

Fortifying your home ahead of a storm can help minimize damage from hail and high winds and from loose, surrounding objects. Texas Department of Insurance created a checklist to help you prepare for dangerous storms and help minimize homeowners insurance claims from tornado damage:

  • Trim trees and shrubs as broken tree limbs can break windows or fall through your roof
  • Know how to turn off utilities to avoid gas and water leaks during a storm
  • Avoid creating more flying objects and avoid using rocks or gravel in landscaping
  • Strengthen the weak spots, such as garage doors and AC units
  • Check gutters and downspouts to ensure they're secure
  • Keep your roof in good shape by checking on the health of your shingles annually


Upgrading your roof and replacing your windows with impact-resistant glass may not only help to make your home more resistant to damage from tornadoes and severe storms, but it could also help you save money in the long run. Learn how some major home improvements can lower your homeowners insurance rate.

During the storm: How to stay safe during a tornado

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests a three-step tornado safety plan for tornado season:

  1. Be prepared

  2. Stay aware of weather conditions

  3. Know where to shelter

1. Be prepared

Knowing how to prepare for a tornado is important. Prepare a home emergency kit and store it where you’ll take shelter. It should contain a first-aid kit, important information, and enough supplies to last for a day or two in case you’re trapped.

2. Stay aware of weather conditions

Know what weather patterns to look for when learning how to prepare for a tornado. A dark or green-colored sky and large hail often precede tornados. If a storm rages and suddenly becomes eerily still, it’s a sign that a tornado may be on the way. You may also see a large, low-hanging cloud or hear a roar like a train.

Of course, the easiest way to know when a tornado is coming is to pay attention to weather forecasts and live updates. It’s a good idea to keep an emergency radio nearby so that you will know as soon as the weather stations know. Learn about helpful resources for severe weather.

3. Know where to shelter

When creating a tornado safety plan, it’s important to have a place to shelter prepared. The lowest point in your house is the best bet. Aim for a basement or ground-level room with no windows, such as a closet or bathroom. Cover yourself with something sturdy, such as a table. If you have nothing to cover you, place a blanket over your body to help cushion you from any falling debris. If you live in a mobile home, know where to seek shelter in a sturdier building nearby.

Pro Tip:

Space underneath a stairwell is one of the safest places to be during a tornado, especially if it’s away from windows. Stairs are constructed to support a tremendous amount of weight, which means you are likely safe from anything collapsing on you.

After the storm: How to clean up

Once the storm passes and you're safe to assess the damage, be sure to use extreme caution when walking over or moving debris. FEMA encourages tornado survivors to wear protective clothing, "including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, and sturdy, thick-soled shoes during cleanup" as these can help protect you from broken glass, sharp nails, and other exposed objects.

FEMA also has a tornado debris removal safety checklist for residents who wish to begin cleanup themselves, though it's always smart to take photos of the damage before any cleanup begins. That way, you'll have evidence of the storm's aftermath in the event you want to make a homeowners insurance claim.

Preparing for the next storm and more


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