From the Diocesan Disaster Preparedness & Response Ministry Team.

tornadoWhile tornadoes have no “official” season, they frequently strike during the spring and summer months. Below is an excerpt from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) website to help you prepare for tornadoes. To learn more, visit their website at: Next month, we’ll provide you preparation suggestions for the upcoming hurricane season.

God’s grace to you,

Your Disaster Preparedness & Response Ministry Team

Preparing for Tornadoes


Get a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with warning alarm tone and battery backup to obtain information directly from the National Weather Service (NWS). This is the quickest way to learn that a tornado is heading your way. Many models are available for a wide range of prices.

Know the difference between a tornado watch and tornado warning. A watch indicates that conditions are prime for a tornado. A warning means that an actual tornado has been spotted.

Determine in advance where you will take cover in case of a tornado warning. Keep this safe location uncluttered. Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.

If underground shelter is not available, go into a windowless interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest accessible floor.

Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners, because they attract debris.

If you are in a high- or mid-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Locate a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide protection. Plan in advance to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation.

Assemble a kit of emergency supplies, and store it in your shelter location.

Practice tornado drills at least once a year


When a tornado watch is issued, stay tuned to local radio, television and NOAA weather radio for additional information and possible warnings. Be prepared to take cover.

When a tornado warning is issued, take cover in your safe location (see above) immediately. Protect your body from flying debris with a heavy blanket, pillows, sofa cushions or mattress.

If you can’t get to your safe location or the lowest level of a substantial building:

  • Open buildings (shopping mall, gym or civic center): Try to get into a restroom or interior hallway. If there is no time, get up against something that will support or deflect falling debris. Protect your head by covering it with your arms.
  • Cars and trucks: Get out of your vehicle and try to find shelter inside a sturdy building. A culvert or ditch can provide shelter if a substantial building is not nearby. Lie down flat and cover your head with your hands. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Outdoors: Try to find shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building. If no buildings are close, lie down flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.
  • Mobile homes: Do not stay in mobile homes. Leave immediately, and seek shelter inside a nearby sturdy building, or lie down in a ditch away from your home, covering your head with your hands. Mobile homes are extremely unsafe during tornadoes.

Stay in your safe location until the danger has passed.


Stay out of damaged buildings, and stay clear of downed power lines.

Help injured or trapped people. Check on those who might need special assistance, such the elderly, children and people with disabilities.

Posted by The Diocese

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