What is a tornado and what to do during a tornado?

What is a tornado?

A tornado is a violent rotating column of air. Tornadoes have 6 different classifications based on damage and wind speeds. The weakest tornado, an EF0 has wind speeds from 65 to 85 mph. The wind speeds only go up from there, an EF1 has winds speeds of 86 to 110 mph. An EF2 has winds speeds of 111 to 135 mph, an EF3 has winds speeds of 136 to 165 mph, an EF4 has winds speeds of 166 to 200 mph. The strongest tornado, an EF5 has wind speeds of 200 plus mph. An EF5 tornado can do catastrophic damage to even well-constructed homes and buildings.

What to do during a tornado?

When there is a threat for tornadoes in the forecast. Stay up to date with the weather and have a way to get weather alerts if one is issued.

Now, during a tornado move indoors and away from windows immediately! Get to the most center part of your home or the building you are in. Get to the lowest floor, a basement if you have one in your home or if one is available. A tornado shelter is also a really good place if you have one. Abandon mobile homes for more substantial shelter!

Protect your head, a bike helmet could help you. Even if you have to use your hands, make sure you protect your head and neck. It’s better to lose a hand than your head.

Do not open up windows because that increases the chances of the tornado destroying your home.

Also, wear hard, still-toe shoes, such as boots, in case you have to walk over damage like nails and other sharp debris.

Wait until the storm has passed or someone tells you it is safe to come out of shelter. Never touch down power lines as they may still be active which means you could be electrocuted if touched. Also, be cautious for the smell of natural gas.


If in a car it is not advised to try to outrun a tornado but if you are far enough from the tornado, turn the other way and drive away. If you are driving and the tornado is approaching, try to find a building for shelter. If one is not available, get out of your vehicle and find a low-lying ditch to get into. Lay flat in the ditch and protect your head until the tornado passes.

Do not park under bridges. Winds increase under bridges and that will put your life in danger.


If you are outside or in a field. Try to find a building for shelter. If one is not available find a low-lying ditch to get into. Lay flat in the ditch and protect your head until the tornado passes.