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Basic Tips for Improving Your Odds of Surviving a Tornado

We have already experienced some severe weather in the Midwest, despite the fact that we are just beginning to enter what many consider to be “peak season.”

May, June, and July have historically witnessed the highest number of tornadoes in the Midwest and Upper Midwest. There is plenty of safety information from a variety of sources, some very basic and some very detailed. I think what follows is a happy medium of good, easy-to-follow safety information. You and your family should take a moment to review these tips to maximize your enjoyment of the otherwise great weather that lies ahead!


In Homes:

  • Go to the basement or a small interior room or hallway on the lowest level. In a small room or basement, get under something sturdy such as a heavy table or the staircase. Avoid the corners of the room!
  • Stay away from windows! Do NOT open windows, as the strong winds in advance of the tornado can shatter the glass and cause severe injuries.

In Mobile Homes:

  • Leave the mobile home immediately and go to a substantial structure. If there isn’t a shelter available, lie flat in a ditch, ravine, or culvert and cover your head with your hands.

In Schools, Health Care Facilities, and Shopping Centers:

  • Go to the predesignated shelter. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually best.
  • Stay away from large windows and glassed areas.
  • Stay away from large rooms, such as dining halls and gymnasiums.

In High Rise Buildings:

  • Go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Avoid elevators!

In Vehicles:

  • Abandon the vehicle immediately! Lie flat in a ditch, culvert, or some other type of depression if it is relatively deep, and remember to cover your head with your hands.
  • Highway overpasses are NOT acceptable storm shelter areas, for a variety of reasons.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado! Tornadoes are known to travel as fast as 60 to 70 m.p.h.

The American Red Cross is a good resource for additional tornado safety information. Visit

Diana, CPCU, AU, INS
Personal Lines Research and Development Specialist

Call Toll-Free 1-800-322-0160