Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornado Safety

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year. Although tornadoes are most common in the Central Plains and the southeastern United States, they have been reported in all 50 states. Are you prepared?


  • Be Weather-Ready: Know the risk in your area. Have a NOAA Weather Radio and be sure to stay up to date with the latest weather information.
  • Have A Plan: Create a family plan with contact information and an emergency meeting place. Practice your plan.
  • Shelter: Pick a safe room in your home such as a basement, cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. If you live in a mobile home, identify a nearby shelter you can get to quickly. Practice with your family by having regular drills. Prepare an Emergency Kit
  • Warnings: Know how your community sends warnings. Some have outdoor sirens, others depend on media and smartphones to alert residents. Have multiple ways to receive warnings.


  • Stay Weather-Ready: Continue to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news to stay updated about severe weather watches and warnings.
  • At your House: If you are in a tornado warning, go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room on the lowest floor of the building away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
  • At Your Workplace or School: Follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.
  • Outside: Seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe, neither is a mobile home or tent. If no shelter is available, take cover in a ditch or low-lying area.
  • In a vehicle: Being in a vehicle during a tornado is NOT safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine.


  • Stay Informed: Continue to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news for the latest updates. Multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms are possible during severe weather outbreaks. Follow the instructions of local authorities!
  • Contact Loved Ones: Let them know you are okay. Text messages or social media can be more reliable than phone calls.
  • Assess the Damage: After the threat has ended, check for damage. If possible, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Help Your Neighbor: If you come across people that are injured and you are properly trained, provide first aid to victims until emergency response teams arrive.

For additional safety tips, visit

Nebraska Tornado Facts