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Why You Should Be Prepared For Tornadoes (Even if you don't live in Tornado Alley)


That's the total number of tornadoes that touched down in the United States in 2015.

An even more concerning number:


The number of fatalities as a result of those tornadoes.  A number that should be 0 with today's technology.

 Many people are well aware of the natural disasters that commonly affect them.  Of those, more than half still have not put together a plan to deal with those emergencies.  Even less have a plan for emergencies that are far less common.

Why is this important?

Tornado Map

Source:  NWS

This map shows tornadoes from 1950-2015.  You'll notice that every state has experienced a tornado.  However, some have experienced far more than others.

Tornado Alley

This collection of states that experiences the most tornadoes is commonly known as a Tornado Alley.  The boundaries of Tornado Alley are not clearly defined.  

However, it is usually described as an area extending from South Dakota to Texas, encompassing Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

The infographic below depicts this general area...   

Infographic: stats on the tornadoes that strike the United States every year

 So you're thinking, "I don't live in Tornado Alley, why does this matter to me?"

 The Other Alleys

According to US Tornadoes, Tornado Alley covers approximately 15% of the US, but about 30% of tornadoes occur in the area.  While a lot for a small area, that leaves 70% of tornadoes that occur outside of Tornado Alley.  

Since 1950, every state has experienced at least one tornado.  However, there are several regions outside of Tornado Alley that also experience a higher number of tornadoes.

These regions often go by other names..

  • Dixie Alley in the south
  • Hoosier Alley in the Ohio Valley
  • Carolina Alley in the east

 If you live in any of these regions, it pays to be prepared.  Consider these facts.

  • There are an average of about 1,000 injuries per year as a result of tornadoes. [Click to Tweet]
  • There have been 5,587 confirmed fatalities as a result of tornadoes between 1950 and 2012. [Click to Tweet]
  • The average insured lost between 1993 and 2012 for severe weather, including tornadoes was about $7.78 billion. [Click to Tweet]

So how do you prepare?

Have a Plan

No number of emergency kits will help you out if you don't have an established plan.  So, establish your plan first.  It is also important for you to know what each item in the kit can be used for, and how to use it.

(Note:  Download the list below as a checklist.  Go through it and practice it with your family.  You can download it here.)

Tornado Prep Checklist

Before the Tornado

    Your preparation should start well before there is a threat of a tornado.  Talk with your family and establish a plan.  This should include:

  • Knowing the difference between a tornado watch and tornado warning, and identifying when a tornado warning is in place.
  • Knowing where to go when there is a tornado warning.  When inside, this should be an interior room on the lowest level with no windows.  If you are caught outside, attempt to quickly find an interior shelter.  If finding a shelter is not possible, you may choose to stay in your vehicle or find an area significantly lower than the roadway to lie in.  Should you choose to stay in your vehicle:  Buckle your seat belt, keep your head below the level of the windows, and cover your head.
  • Have a survival kit prepared.  A survival kit such as our Tornado Emergency Kit will provide you with the essentials for tornado preparation.

During the Tornado

    If a tornado warning has been issued, it is time to enact the plans you previously created.  Remember, a tornado warning means that there is imminent danger to life and/or property, and a tornado has either been radar indicated or sighted.  

Check out our blog post on why you should not be complacent when it comes to tornado (or any) warnings issued by the National Weather Service.  Make sure to get to a safe place and remain there until the threat is over.

After the Tornado

    Once the tornado threat is over, there are likely to still be significant dangers remaining.  You will want to keep in mind several important points:

  • Do a head count of the people you have included in your preparedness plan.  Make sure there are no injuries, and administer first aid to those that need it until first responders are on scene.
  • If your house or area suffered damage, watch out for damaged gas and power lines.  Report any damage you see, refrain from approaching downed power lines, and do not use candles when inspecting your house or buildings.  
  • If your house was damaged, get out when it is safe to do so.  Do not enter buildings that have been damaged.
  • If it is safe to do so, clean up spills that could become a fire hazard.
  • If you were not home, only return when you have been cleared to do so by authorities.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Go over your plan.  Make sure you have everything in place.  Include every member of your family when you practice the drills, and make sure everybody knows how to use the emergency kit.

While there have been some ridiculous recommendations for protecting people from tornadoes, the best is to always be prepared.  Even if you don't live in Tornado Alley.

(Note:  Our checklist can help you get a plan established.  Go through it and practice it with your family.  You can download it here.)

10 Step Tornado Prep Checklist

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