two kids petting a dog

A tornado is one of the most terrifying forces of destruction nature can unleash, with a funnel of winds swirling at up to 300 mph. They can happen any time of year and appear transparent until they pick up dust and debris. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, one tornado can cut a path of devastation a mile wide and 50 miles long. So, it's important to prepare for a tornado and know what to do during and after one occurs.

Tornado safety tips

Before tornado

  • Go to the basement or an inside room without windows on the lowest floor (bathroom, closet, center hallway).
  • If possible, avoid sheltering in a room with windows.
  • For added protection, get under something sturdy (a heavy table or workbench). Cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag or mattress. Protect your head with anything available.
  • If it’s safe, move outdoor furniture and grills inside. They can be deadly flying debris.
  • Don't open your windows. Keep the wind and rain outside.
  • Stay tuned to local radio and TV for any tornado announcements and instructions.
  • Do not stay in a mobile home.

After tornado

  • Check for structural damage before going inside.
  • If dark, use a flashlight – not matches, a candle or a lighter. An open flame could ignite leaking gas.
  • Listen for reports to see when drinking water is safe.
  • Document your damage by taking inventory of your damaged or destroyed items.
  • Use your cell phone or camera to take pictures of the damage that can be used to document your insurance claim.

Tips to prepare your home for a tornado

  • Trim your trees. Trees in your yard could pose a threat to your home during high winds. Remove branches that overhang the house and remove dead, dying, or diseased trees.
  • Install a home lightning surge protector to help keep electrical equipment safe from power surges.
  • In hail-prone regions, install screens around your home’s air conditioning unit to help reduce the chance of hail damage to coils and fins.
  • Select a wind-rated garage door. Garage doors are one of the most vulnerable parts of the home in high winds. High winds can push a garage door inward, allowing pressure to push up on the roof and surrounding walls and damage your home. Wind-rated garage doors have been tested to withstand these pressures and can help protect your home.
  • Upgrade to steel gutters and downspouts. Steel is stronger than its more popular counterparts, vinyl and aluminum. In hail-prone regions, upgrade to steel products, which are more durable against hail impacts and less likely to leak.

Talk to us

Even with the best preparation, you can still sustain damage from unexpected events like tornados. To report a wind damage claim, visit Wind Storm and Hurricane Damage Insurance Claims – Nationwide. You may also contact an agent today to protect your home with the right homeowners insurance for your needs.

Need to file a claim? Visit our claims center or call 1-800-421-3535.

Nationwide offers this information to help you make decisions that may help you mitigate your risk. Of course, we can't address every possible risk or guarantee these tips will work for you. However, we hope that you will consider which of these may help you in your efforts to protect your family and yourself.