Tornado States

While tornadoes can happen in any state they are most common in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest states. You should prepare for a tornado if you reside in any of these states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, or Wyoming.


About Tornadoes

A Tornado (sometimes referred to as a twister) is a dangerous, violent, rotating column of air that comes in contact with both the ground and a thunder cloud. Large tornadoes can have wind speeds of more than 300 miles per hour, but most are under 110 miles per hour. Tornados also vary in diameter with some spanning more than two miles across, although more commonly they span about 300 feet across. They can travel distances of more than 25 miles on the ground and while some are quite small in size the damage they cause can be devastating.

Tornadoes are one of the nature's most violent events and can appear suddenly and without warning. They can happen in any state, and at any time of the year. Their approach can be difficult to predict because they change direction frequently and are only visible to the eye when dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears.

Advanced planning for a tornado is extremely important. You need to Determine where you and your family will go in the event of a tornado warning (see shelter tips below) and be prepared to act quickly and practice your plan at least twice a year.

Tornado Warnings

When weather conditions are conducive for tornados, authorities or weather experts may issue one of the the following warnings:

Tornado Watch

A tornado watch is issued by authorities when a tornado is likely to happen in your area.

Tornado Warning

A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is actually currently happening in your area. Take shelter immediately.

Important Shelter Tips for Tornadoes

Determine ahead of time where you will take shelter when a tornado warning is issued

  • Storm cellars and basements provide good protection from a tornado.
  • If underground shelter is unavailable, go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor of your home or office.
  • Stay clear from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room and stay away from the corners because debris flows into them.
  • A vehicle, trailer or mobile home is not a good place to seek shelter. Seek shelter in a building with a strong foundation
  • If shelter is unavailable, lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. Do not seek shelter under an overpass or bridge as its safer to be in a low, flat location.
  • Remain in your shelter until danger has passed.

Preparing for a Tornado

Being prepared for a tornado or any other type of disaster requires preparation beforehand. There are three important steps you should complete in preparation for a tornado. To make this even easier, Essential Packs provides you with a FREE online Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide that takes your step-by-step through the process:

Having the proper emergency preparedness kit, having a plan, and knowing what to do before a tornado strikes, will greatly improve you and your family’s chances of being safe. Complete the 3-Step Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide today!

Get A Tornado Survival Kit

Getting an Emergency Preparedness Kit for your home, office (or school), and car(s) is an essential first step in being prepared for a tornado. Emergency Preparedness Kits from Essential Packs, provide you and your family with the emergency supplies your family needs to last for 3 days (72 hours). Deluxe Kits from Essential Packs are compliant with FEMA's guidelines and include important items like: emergency food and drinking water, flashlights, radios, first-aid supplies, sanitation supplies, emergency blankets, waterproof ponchos, and much more.


Get A Tornado Preparedness Kit

Before it's too late...

Residential Office School Car
Get a tornado emergency kit


For additional help on selecting the right kit, visit Step 1 - Get A Kit of our Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide.

Make a Plan

In order to know what to do when a tornado occurs, you need to create a Family Emergency Plan. Sit down with your family members and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in the event of a disaster or emergency.

To make this easy, Essential Packs provides you with a Family Emergency Planning Document that you can download for FREE. Simply open this PDF document and fill-in the blanks, then, print a copy for each family member, and store one copy in your Emergency Preparedness Kit.

You should update your Family Emergency Plan every six months, as phone number, work locations, and other important information could change.

For more help on creating a Family Emergency Plan, visit Step 2 - Make A Plan of our Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide.

Be Informed

The final step to getting prepared is to be informed about what to do before, during, and after a tornado. FEMA's In-Depth Citizen's Guide to Disaster Preparedness helps you do this by providing you with comprehensive emergency preparedness information a variety of disasters.

Visit Step 3 - Be Informed of our Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide to download FEMA's comprehensive, 200 page book called, "Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness".