Disaster Preparedness Tips

Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes can strike with little or no warning. That's why it's essential to pay attention to weather conditions and be ready to take shelter quickly. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency offers disaster preparedness tips.

  • Before the tornado occurs, have a plan that allows communication with your family and identifies a safe and secure shelter location.
  • Be on alert for signs of a tornado which can include strong winds and a possibility of precipitation. Tornadoes typically pick up debris and form a visible cloud in the shape of a funnel.
  • Take cover in the basement. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • If you are in an apartment, move to a hallway or if possible move to a hallway on the lowest level of the building.
  • Avoid doors and windows. Do not open windows.
  • If in vehicle, trailer, or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • If outside with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries. 

"Planning and preparedness could save your life and the lives of loved ones," Cannon said. "Individuals and families need to have a communication plan in place in order to contact or find each other. As the storm approaches, residents should listen to and closely follow instructions from local and state authorities."

Help may not be immediately available when severe weather strikes, so residents should always be stocked with enough provisions to last at least 72 hours. Have disaster preparedness supplies on hand, including:

  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Emergency food and water.
  • Non-electric can opener.
  • Essential medicines/prescriptions.
  • Cash, credit cards and important legal documents.
  • Sturdy shoes.

If residents are ordered by local officials to evacuate, they should do so without hesitating and should take copies of important papers with them. Take along:

  • Checkbooks.
  • Driver's license.
  • Credit card information.
  • Birth certificates.
  • Social security cards.
  • Other forms and documents proving ownership/identity.


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