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Tornado Preparedness Checklist (Before and After the Storm)

You may expect emergencies to happen around the world, but it’s easy to assume they won’t affect you. In uncertain times, there’s one positive step you can take: make a preparedness checklist. After all, the U.S. experiences more tornadoes than any country in the world. In this guide, you’ll explore basic tornado preparedness and learn how to regain your new normal. You’ll understand which preparedness habits are most important so that you’re ready to face natural disasters and other unexpected events.

By Justin1569 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5943918

Tornado Preparedness Checklist: Before the Tornado

Having an action plan in the event of a natural disaster can mean the difference between safety and harm for yourself and your loved ones. In many parts of the U.S., tornadoes are a certainty, so it’s best to prepare before an emergency happens.

Tornadoes develop in as little as a few minutes, and advance warning may not be possible. By preparing your home, business, and family, you can mitigate the damage and focus on rebuilding if losses happen. Take a look at how you can plan now to safeguard the future.

1. Call a community meeting

First, it’s important to discuss an action plan with your family, friends, and neighbors in case of a weather emergency. Your family may not be together when a tornado is in your area, so it’s essential to choose a place to meet. Designating a single number to call or text is a simple way to keep your family coordinated. It may be simpler to report to an out-of-state family member in case of service outages.

If it’s not possible to meet after a tornado strikes, having a community plan is a great alternative. Discuss your community’s warning system and implement a shelter plan. You can even raise funds to build a tornado shelter.

2. Build a safe room

Creating a storm shelter for your home or business is the most effective way to ensure your safety during a tornado. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the occupants of a safe room have a very low risk of injury or death from a tornado.

Before deciding to build a safe room, you’ll need to consider your risk, funds, and space. The severity and frequency of tornadoes vary across the country. Most tornadoes occur in the Great Plains region, but some happen in the Midwest. You should consider your wind zone when building a shelter. A safe room is a FEMA-preferred choice for protection in states with high risks of wind damage.

Designing a part of your home or business to resist damage can be complicated. You’ll need to meet FEMA’s design and construction requirements. You can choose to build a safe room during the initial construction of your home or business or add one afterward. If your neighborhood or community uses the safe room, there are additional guidelines for spaces designed to house more than 16 people.

Lastly, you’ll need to consider waste removal methods for your construction debris. Before building, make sure to connect with a professional dumpster rental service. A company offering both construction and residential services will remove your debris safely.

3. Create an emergency plan

When a weather emergency strikes, all of your family members may not be at home. It’s important to have a plan in place so that your loved ones know what to do and expect. Together you can create the plan during a community or family meeting. Make sure to add escape routes to your plan. Each family member should know the easiest way to reach the safe room or the most secure room in your home.

For businesses, it’s especially important to create an emergency plan. A comprehensive plan can be the key to ensuring your business stays open after the tornado passes. Developing an employee training plan and practicing tornado drills are ways to keep your staff confident in an emergency.

4. Stock supplies

Now that you’ve set up a meeting place and created an emergency plan, you should put together an emergency kit with supplies for at least 72 hours. An emergency kit is essential for any disaster that could require you to take shelter in your home or business.

Critical items to secure in case of an emergency are food and water. The U.S. Government recommends one gallon of water per person per day. Also, stock up on non-perishable food items:

● Dry meats such as jerky or cans of salmon or tuna
● Nuts, seeds, and all kinds of butter (almond, cashew, peanut)
● Flour, yeast, and egg powder to make bread
● Rice, beans, quinoa, and oats (note: these items are long-lasting but can’t be cooked without heat)
● Dehydrated meals that don’t require water

In addition to food and water, make sure to prepare important documents, especially for your business. You should keep copies of your business’ bank records, taxes, and insurance policies in a hazard-proof container. Keep personal documents such as your social security card, passport, and other identification at home in another safe place.

In addition to records, maintain a list of business contacts for cleanup. After the storm passes, waste removal will be an important step to restarting your home life or your business.

Tornado Preparedness Checklist: Cleanup

According to FEMA, over 75% of businesses without a continuity plan will fail within three years of a natural disaster. To keep your business protected, assess the structural risks of your property beforehand, and be ready to solve them quickly after the event. For homeowners, be prepared to clean up tornado debris on your property. Get started with these three steps:

1. Call a professional

Customers flood restoration companies with requests after a tornado. Make sure to call a remediation company as soon as you are able so that a professional can assess the damages. As your community begins to clean storm debris, large dumpsters will be in high demand too.

As a business owner, you may need a permit to place the large trash container on a street or other public property. A knowledgeable professional can help you navigate local laws so you can begin the clean up quickly.

2. Check damages

There are common types of accidents that happen during a tornado. Many are preventable with adequate preparation before the event. Frequent problems include

● Roof damage. Tornadoes reach ground speeds of up to 300 miles per hour. Your roof may be slightly damaged with water leaks or completely torn off by the wind.
● Building destruction. Flashing around the windows and doors may be damaged or missing. Cracked or shattered windows are common after a tornado.
● Electrical problems. Unseen damage can happen from tornadoes too. A professional engineer can help you identify electrical, lightning, and antenna damage.

3. Stay aware

After a tornado, there are other hazards to look out for. Floodwater may be high, and dead animals pose a significant health risk. Make sure to keep a first aid kit for your family or employees to treat minor injuries.

A NOAA weather radio broadcasts national weather forecasts. It’s a special device that will let you know about warnings or watches in your area and prepare you for additional emergencies.

Be Tornado Safe

As a prepared homeowner or business owner, you can inspire others in your community. FEMA rewards tornado prepared companies as Ready Business Community Members. You’ll receive a certificate from the federal government for meeting its preparation requirements.

As you prepare and clean up, don’t be afraid to reach out to organizations in your community for help. Local sanitation departments and trash collectors can pick up some storm waste. Discount Dumpster can guide you through the cleanup process, so you’ll face tornado emergencies prepared.


1. “Taking Shelter from the Storm.” Federal Emergency Management Agency. 2014 December. www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1418837471752-920f09bb8187ee15436712a3e82ce709/FEMA_P-320_2014_508.pdf
2. “Ready Business Severe Wind Torando Toolkit.” Federal Emergency Management Agency. www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1510690330564-1e6c4874b251c3022ac4b57b0369e2da/Severe_Wind_Tornado_Ready_Business_Toolkit_Interactive_Final_508.pdf

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