Your primary concern during a tornado is protecting your family and yourself. A secondary concern, though, is your property. Doing what you can to protect your home or business from the strong winds and debris associated with a tornado can minimize cleanup and help you get back to business soon after the storm clears.
Before a tornado
Long before a tornado watch is issued, there are things you can do to protect your property or business.
- Repairs - Make sure your home or business is structurally sound. As soon as you notice a broken window or a leaky roof, make repairs immediately. For less obvious problems, a building inspection can reveal any weak points that need repair or replacement. Keeping up with repairs can give your property or business the best chance to withstand a tornado.
- Clean up - Keep the outside of your property clean. Trim and dispose of dead tree limbs and keep up with bulk trash and recycling. The fewer objects outside your home or business the better, since these items could become damaging debris in a tornado.
- Hazardous materials - Store hazardous materials in designated containers and areas. Keeping potentially dangerous chemicals and substances in clearly marked containers and areas can minimize cleanup after a tornado and help protect cleanup crews.
- Important documents - Keep documents, like birth certificates, social security cards, deeds, accounting information, inventory, data and contracts in a fire-proof, water-proof safe to offer them extra protection should your home face damage. Also consider backing up computer files on external drives stored in another location.
- Insurance - Be sure your home, property or business insurance covers tornado damage. Depending on your policy, tornado damage may be covered or you may need additional coverage. Either way, it's worth asking before a storm hits. Also check on what costs your policy covers, including dislocation reimbursement or rebuilding supplies.
- Emergency plan - Make sure that your home or business has a designated safe room in case of a tornado. This room can be a storm shelter, basement or interior room on the lowest floor possible. Be sure that every employee or family member knows the location of the safe room and if you run a business, the room should be large enough to accommodate customers. Should your business face damage after a tornado, have a plan in place that can keep business running while repairs are being made.
During a tornado warning
- Windows and doors - Protect the interior of your home or business from debris and strong winds by securing all doors and windows before you have to move to your safe room.
- Official warnings - Heed the warnings of weather officials. Listen for instructions to move to your safe room, and move customers, employees or family members to the room immediately.
Remember that protecting yourself and those around you is more important than saving your home or business. If you haven't completely prepped your home or business for a tornado and a warning arises, move to your safe room immediately. Keeping everyone safe should be your top priority; possessions can be replaced.
Even a perfectly prepared building can fall victim to a strong tornado, so just prepare your home or business the best that you can and be prepared to move to your safe room at the first warning of a tornado. For more information on how to prepare for a tornado, visit the American Red Cross or FEMA.