Life in Minnesota - Tornado Tips
Knowing the stats is just the beginning. Whether you live in a condominium, townhome or single-family home, you can look to your association manager for tips specific to your community as well. In the meantime, there are other steps you can take to be better prepared. Click here for our infographic.
1. Plan right.
Whether you live in a condo in downtown Minneapolis or a townhome in one of the Twin Cities’ suburbs, the risk of tornadoes exists from May through July. Planning for a potentially devastating storm is essential, so pick a place to seek shelter in the event of a tornado – ideally, a location without windows and on the lowest floor of your building or townhome. Hallways, bathrooms and closets work great. Plan the route to your safety zone ahead of time and practice tornado drills with everyone living in your home. You’ll want to be sure more than one person is familiar with how to shut off utilities. Keep a first aid kit handy, along with fire extinguishers (make sure you know how to use it). Another thing? Batteries – you’ll probably lose power during a big storm, and you’ll need a way to operate your battery-powered radio and TV so you can get weather updates.
2. Create your list.
Part of good preparation means having the info you need in case the worst should happen. That means compiling a list of emergency contacts, such as the numbers of your close neighbors, insurance agent, and association manager, if you have one. You’ll also want to make sure to have your insurance policy numbers and important health information readily available. .It’s a great idea to invest in a fire-and-water-proof safe to store all your birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policies, wills and documentation of your home’s contents, these are all difficult to replace if destroyed during a tornado.
3. Speak the language.
Government agencies use certain words and terms when hazardous weather comes about. A “watch” -- like a severe thunderstorm or tornado watch – means those types of storms are possible near your location. If you hear the term “warning,” however – like a thunderstorm warning or a tornado warning – it means that type of weather has actually been spotted near you. In the instance of the latter, take shelter right away.
4. Know the signs.
You don’t need a thunderstorm for a tornado to form. Look for other signs like dark or green-colored skies, low clouds that are large, or dark, big hail chunks, or the sound of a fast-moving freight train. These are all signs of a tornado, and if you see or hear any of them you should take shelter right away. A funnel cloud requires immediate action too, as it means a tornado has actually formed. If you can do so without endangering yourself, call your local broadcast stations so they can pass along the warning to others. As a further precaution, listen for the tornado sirens that sound during emergencies. These sirens are tested the first Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m.
5. Go where it’s safe.
If the worst happens and you encounter an actual tornado, there are a few things you can do:
- If at home, go to your safe windowless place, and cover everyone with a blanket, sleeping bag or mattress to protect from flying debris. Getting under a sturdy table works, too.
- Those who live in mobile homes should leave and find a more stable place to shelter.
- If in a car, never try to outrun a tornado. Pull over to an area lower than the road, and with your safety belt still fastened lean down below the windows, covering yourself with a blanket or jacket. Never park under an overpass or bridge – this is actually quite dangerous.
- If outdoors on foot during a tornado, find any shelter you can – even inside a vehicle. In absence of that, find the lowest patch of land you can and cover up your head with your hands.
Other storm and tornado information can be found here: