Tornado Preparedness

With winter behind us, our thoughts turn to spring and summer. Unfortunately, with the change of season, also comes the threat of tornados. As with every threat we face in life, putting it into context helps us decide what to do to prepare for the threat. 


  • Occur more frequently in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world with over 800 reported annually 
  • Cause an average of 80 deaths and 1,500 injuries annually
  • The most dangerous are referred to as EF5 (Enhanced Fujita scale); while representing only about 2% of tornados, they are responsible for 70% of tornado deaths and have wind speeds of 205 to 250 miles per hour
  • Can persist in an area for up to one hour
  • Highest risk for Southern states is between February and May while Northern states face the highest risk from April through July
  • Can occur at any time with the most likely period between 3PM – 9PM

How to Prepare

Have a Plan

At Home. Consider how you will be alerted and actions you will take with your family. All family members should also have a plan when they are away from home. 

At Work. Discuss where you will gather in a severe storm and outline your emergency communication plans and policies.

Listen to the news updates. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) radios are available that provide specific alerts for Watches and Warnings. Download a radar app on your phone; a good phone app is MyRadar for IPhone and Android users. 

Alerts. A tornado Watch indicates a tornado is possible, a Warning means a tornado has been sighted or picked up on radar. When a warning sounds, take shelter underground if possible, or in an interior space away from windows.

Keep a “go bag”. Have a disaster kit containing water, clothing, blankets, a flashlight, first aid kit, and any special items needed for infants and elderly or disabled family members.

Have a Tornado Drill. Practice what you’ve discussed whether at home or at work.  This will test the reactions and communication of everyone involved.

To learn more about tornados and what you can do to protect yourself and your family, visit the National Weather Service website at:

For additional information, tools and resources related to disaster preparedness, visit the Pharmacists Mutual Disaster Support Center at at the bottom of the page.