What to Do If You Are in Your Apartment During a Tornado

Tornadoes occur more frequently in the United States than in any other country in the world. There are approximately 1,200 tornadoes here each year!

That fact gives us about 1,200 reasons to prepare you for a tornado. If you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself in your apartment during a tornado, we want you to be safe. The following tornado safety tips should help.

Know What to Look For

It sounds strange, but not every tornado has a funnel. Still, a nearby cloud base with a strong rotation (it’s spinning) is a common indicator of a looming tornado. You’ll likely spot swirling dust and debris on the ground below it.

Also at ground level, you might see small but bright flashes of light near a thunderstorm. These flashes aren’t lightning—they’re power lines snapping in strong winds, possibly as a result of a tornado.

Large hail and a loud rumbling noise, sometimes compared to a train or a very close thunder roll that doesn’t fade in a second or two, are two other signs.

That said, don’t wait until you see the tornado to take action. If a tornado warning is issued, take shelter immediately. It’s vital to know how your city alerts citizens to tornadoes, especially since different cities have different criteria for sounding an alarm. Many use sirens for outdoor warnings though, so listen up.

Remember the Basics

You’re unlikely to experience a tornado more than once. That means the one time it does happen, it might unnerve you a bit. Commit the following to memory:

As a general rule, get as low as you possibly can, with as many barriers between you and the outside world as possible.

If possible, leave your apartment and find one of these locations:

  • The first (street-level) floor.
  • The floor below ground level, if available.
  • The windowless area under a stairwell.

Staying physically low within these spaces also helps protect you from debris that may be flying around as a result of the high winds.

Some apartment complexes have tornado shelters. If yours does and you can reach it before the storm arrives, head here. Do not leave your apartment complex under any circumstances while the storm is happening.

If you cannot leave your apartment to find lower ground with more protection barriers between you and the storm, find the innermost room of your apartment and shelter yourself away from windows. This may be:

  • Your closet.
  • Your laundry room.
  • Your laundry room.

TIP: An evacuation kit can be a tremendous help.

Caution Doesn’t End with the Tornado

If a tornado strike causes significant damage, you must practice the utmost caution after first confirming that you, your roommates, and your neighbors are safe.

  • Look out for, avoid, and report any fallen power lines.If your building suffered serious damage, do not remain in it or return to it until given an official all-clear signal.
  • Wear clothing that protects your hands and feet to avoid getting hurt when checking your space for damage.
  • Photograph apartment damage and damaged possessions. These pictures will come in handy for your renters insurance claim.

Read about additional tornado safety tips.

A Place to Turn after Disaster

A tornado can be devastating. If you're unable to stay in your current apartment due to this natural disaster, turn to ApartmentSearch. We'll help you find a temporary or long-term apartment where you can feel safe and secure.

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