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Picture of a tornado touching down on the prairiesA tornado is nature’s most violent form of storm activity. Spiralling winds up to 400 km/hr can destroy anything in its path. Tornados travel erratically, and can move forward at speeds of up to 45 km/hr.

Prepare for a tornado

  • Identify where you can take shelter during a tornado:
    • Shelters should be easily accessible.
    • Shelters should protect you from flying glass, debris and furniture.
  • Examples of good shelters are protected areas in the deepest and most sheltered part of your basement or inner hallways, washrooms, stairwells or closets.
  • Examples of poor shelters are any building with large roof spans (e.g., large halls, auditoriums, cafeterias, arenas, gyms); trailers or mobile homes; motor vehicles (abandon your vehicle and lay down in a low-lying ditch); or overpasses (again lay down in a low-lying ditch).
  • Prepare a survival kit.
  • Talk to your family about what everyone should do if a tornado occurs.
  • Listen for weather updates Usually Environment Canada  will issue a severe thunderstorm warning, tornado watch, or tornado warnings which will be broadcasted on local radio and television stations.

Severe thunderstorm warning

The warning may include the phrase “severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes”. This does not mean that a tornado is present, but indicates one could develop. You should stay alert and listen for further weather updates.

  • Tornado watch This statement means weather conditions are right for tornados to develop. Stay alert and listen for further weather updates.
  • Tornado warning This warning means that a tornado has touched down in your area. You should move to safety and listen to your radio for further weather updates.

Stay safe during a tornado

If you are at home:

  • If time permits, secure anything that might be torn loose or blown away.
  • If directed to do so, turn off main electrical panels, gas and water valves.
  • Do not use the telephone
  • Go to the basement immediately. If there isn't one, go to an inner hallway, washroom, stairwell or closet. Do not go outside or travel anywhere.
  • Do not crouch or lie flat under heavy furniture.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Turn on your radio and listen for updates.

If you are at work or in a public building:

  • Stay away from windows.
  • Go to an inner hallway, washroom, or stairwell.
  • Do not use the telephone.
  • Do not crouch or lie flat under heavy furniture.
  • Do not take shelter in areas with large roof spans (cafeterias, arenas, gyms, large halls)
  • Do not use the elevator.

If you are outside:

  • Lie down in a ditch or ravine and protect your head with your hands and arms.

If you are driving:

  • Get out of and away from the car. It could blow through the air or roll over on you.
  • Lie down in a ditch or ravine and protect your head with your hands and arms.

After the tornado

  • If your building has severe damage, move outside to avoid being injured by falling debris.
  • If you can, help anyone who is injured. If you are injured, seek medical help.
  • Only use the telephone if you need immediate emergency assistance. Emergency crews will need all available lines.
  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updates and instructions.