Tornadoes, nature’s most violent storms, can appear suddenly and without warning — even remaining invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. These violent storms can pack winds of up to 300 mph and leave damage trails up to 1 mile wide and 50 miles long. Illinois ranks fifth in the nation for the most tornadoes per 10,000 square miles. Injuries or deaths from tornadoes most often are due to collapsed buildings, flying objects, or people caught trying to outrun the funnel cloud.

During a Tornado Watch

  • Stay tuned to radio or TV for updates.
  • Be prepared to take shelter at any time, since some tornadoes develop so quickly that advance warning is impossible.
  • Watch the sky for funnel shaped clouds and pay attention to tornado danger signs – dark, greenish sky, large hail and a loud roar similar to a freight train.
  • Stay out of large, flat buildings with wide open areas such as supermarkets or shopping malls.
  • Stock your home shelter area with a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, water and a first aid kit.

During a Tornado Warning

  • Seek shelter in the basement or an interior room of a nearby, sturdy building.
  • In a high-rise, get to the lowest floor possible and go to an interior room.
  • Tornado shelter areas are interior hallways, interior restrooms or rooms away from exterior walls and windows. Building diagrams should be posted in each room highlighting routes to safe areas.
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately and seek shelter.
  • If you are caught outside, lie flat in a ditch and cover your head. Do not get under bridges or overpasses.

After a Tornado

  • Assess any damage to your home or immediate surroundings.
  • Be careful when entering a tornado–damaged structure. Make sure the walls and roof are in place and the foundation is safe.
  • Be aware of any potential hazards such as ruptured gas lines, structural damage to your home, downed electrical lines and broken glass. Immediately report any injuries or hazards via 911. 
  • Call 911 to report injured or trapped persons.