First Lexington Scouting Group | Waterloo, Ontario


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You'll be much safer during a tornado if you know what to do! Help your family prepare now for these dangerous storms. 


What's a kid to do?

There's lots you can do to help keep your family safe.


Keep your ears open! Buy a NOAA Weather Radio, which broadcasts weather alerts.

Know your risk. Research tornadoes on this page and at the library.

Know where to go! When a tornado WARNING is issued, go quickly to a windowless, interior room such as a bathroom, storm cellar, basement or lowest level of the building.

Make a list of items to bring inside if a tornado watch is issued. Don't forget your pet.

Keep your yard tidy. Help your parents trim diseased or damaged limbs from trees and shrubs and remove debris from your yard – these things can cause damage in a tornado's high winds.

Have a plan. Talk to your family members about having a plan if your home is damaged by a tornado. Have an out-of-town family contact in case you must relocate after a disaster.

Don't lose your roof to high winds! Have your parents install strapping to keep the roof attached to the walls.

(Info from the FEMA Kids tornado page)

Fast Facts 

What is a tornado? Tornadoes are rotating, funnel-shaped clouds that come from powerful thunderstorms. They cause damage when they touch down on the ground. Severe weather can be very scary and tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms.

When do tornadoes happen? They can happen at any time of year, but April through October are the most active months for tornadoes in Virginia.

How fast are they? Most tornadoes have winds of 70-100 mph, but the biggest tornadoes have winds of 200-300 mph.

How long do they last? Tornadoes can last from just a few seconds to more than an hour!

Know the lingo ...

If storms or tornadoes are in the area, stay informed by listening to radio, television or a NOAA Weather Radio for the latest tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS. Here's what these terms mean:

TORNADO WATCH – Tornadoes are possible. Stay tuned to the radio or television news. 

TORNADO WARNING – A tornado has been sighted. Take shelter immediately! 

tornado with lightning photoKnow what to do in a tornado situation

The most important thing to do during a tornado is to take shelter immediately! Go into a building, stay away from windows and doors, crouch down and clasp your hands over the back of your neck and head to protect them.

Tornadoes come from thunderstorms, so be alert during storms.

If you're in the house:

Stay away from windows – they may break and send glass flying.

Go to a basement if you have one and get under a heavy workbench.

If you don't have a basement, go to the lowest level and get into a bathroom, hall or hall closet that is nearest the center of your house.

If you can, put a mattress or pillows over your head to protect yourself.

If you're outside:

Go into a strong nearby building.

If you're in a car, get out of it and run into a nearby building. Never try to outrun a tornado in a car – tornadoes can move much faster and can pick up and toss a car.

If you can't get into a building, lie in a ditch. Cover your head with your hands.

If you're in a school or other building:

Go to a central hall. Crouch down on the floor and cover the back of your head with your hands.

Stay away from windows, mobile classrooms or rooms with large roofs (like a cafeteria or gym).

If you're in a trailer or mobile home:

Get out! Trailers are not safe in a tornado. Go to a sturdy building for shelter or lie in a ditch and cover your head with your hands.

How to Conduct a Tornado Drill 

Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere, with little or no warning. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives. Here are some steps to follow to conduct a successful tornado drill: 

Designate one or more people in your organization to coordinate your drill and have them follow the steps below.

Before the drill 

Before the drill, make sure that your employees are aware that you are having a tornado drill, that they understand what will take place during the drill and that they know the safest places to be during a tornado. 

The safest place is typically a building's basement away from any windows. If there is no basement, go to a windowless interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building. 

Encourage your employees to visit to get information about tornado preparedness. 

During the drill 

Announce the start of the drill by using a public address system or having designated volunteers alert staff. 

Employees should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted near the building. They should evacuate as quickly as possible to the nearest safe place.

In a real tornado emergency, once people reach safe areas they would crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down, and cover their heads with their hands. Please ensure that people in your organization know this. 

Once all employees have evacuated, the drill coordinator can announce that the tornado has passed and the drill is over. Employees can then return to their offices. 

After the drill 

The drill coordinator should document any necessary changes in the evacuation procedure. 

Do more safe areas need to be identified? 

Are some safe areas cluttered and need to be cleaned out to be more accessible? 

Do employees know the fastest routes to take to safe areas? 

Is a better method for letting employees know of an approaching tornado needed?

Disaster Supplies Kit 

There are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container--suggested items are marked with an asterisk(*). Possible containers include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag. 


Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more. 

Store one gallon of water per person per day. 

Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person in your household for food preparation/sanitation).* 


Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight. Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster Supplies Kit: 

Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables 

Canned juices 

Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.) 

High energy foods 


Food for infants 

Comfort/stress foods 

First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car. 

Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes 

Assorted sizes of safety pins 

Cleansing agent/soap 

Latex gloves (2 pairs) 


2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6) 

4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6) 

Triangular bandages (3) 

Non-prescription drugs 

2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls) 

3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls) 




Moistened towelettes 



Tongue blades (2) 

Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant 

Non-Prescription Drugs 

Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever 

Anti-diarrhea medication 

Antacid (for stomach upset) 

Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center


Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center) 

Tools and Supplies 

Mess kits, or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils* 

Emergency preparedness manual* 

Battery-operated radio and extra batteries* 

Flashlight and extra batteries* 

Cash or traveler's checks, change* 

Non-electric can opener, utility knife* 

Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type 

Tube tent 




Matches in a waterproof container 

Aluminum foil 

Plastic storage containers 

Signal flare 

Paper, pencil 

Needles, thread 

Medicine dropper 

Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water 


Plastic sheeting 

Map of the area (for locating shelters) 


Toilet paper, towelettes* 

Soap, liquid detergent* 

Feminine supplies* 

Personal hygiene items* 

Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses) 

Plastic bucket with tight lid 


Household chlorine bleach 

Clothing and Bedding
*Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person. 

Sturdy shoes or work boots* 

Rain gear* 

Blankets or sleeping bags* 

Hat and gloves 

Thermal underwear 


Special Items 

Remember family members with special requirements, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons 

For Baby* 




Powdered milk 


For Adults* 

Heart and high blood pressure medication 


Prescription drugs 

Denture needs 

Contact lenses and supplies 

Extra eye glasses 


Games and books 

Important Family Documents 

Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container: 

Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds 

Passports, social security cards, immunization records 

Bank account numbers 

Credit card account numbers and companies 

Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers 

Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates) 

Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the supplies kit in the trunk of your car

Keep items in airtight plastic bags. Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh. Replace your stored food every six months. Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc. 

Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications. 

General Disaster Preparedness Materials Children & Disasters 

"Disaster Preparedness Coloring Book" (ARC 2200, English, or ARC 2200S, Spanish) Children & Disasters ages 3-10. 

"Adventures of the Disaster Dudes" (ARC 5024) video and Presenter's Guide for use by an adult with children in grades 4-6. 

To get copies of American Red Cross Community Disaster Education materials, contact your local Red Cross chapter. 


Prepare a home tornado plan

Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered. 

If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building. 

Assemble a disaster supplies kit

Stay tuned for storm warnings

Login to the Community Emergency Center Web site or check out your local radio and TV stations and web sites for updated storm information. 

Subscribe to the free Weather Alerts, and News Alerts. 

Know what a tornado WATCH and WARNING means: 

A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. 

A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. 

Go to safety immediately. Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county or parish. 

When a Tornado WATCH Is Issued...

Listen to local radio and TV stations for further updates. 

Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train. 

When a Tornado WARNING Is Issued...

If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area. 

If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.

If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above). 

After the Tornado Passes...

Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area. 

Listen to the radio, or if possible, logon to the Community Emergency Center for information and instructions. 

Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage. 

Do not use candles at any time. 


U.S. 2000 Census population


Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year (reported deaths + injuries)


Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year (estimated total deaths + injuries)


Odds of being struck in your lifetime (Est. 80 years)


Odds you will be affected by someone being struck (Ten people affected for every one struck)


Who Gets Injured 

While about one third of all injuries occur during work, workers compensation companies are often reluctant to acknowledge the injury or pay related medical expenses. About another third of injuries occur during recreational or sports activities. The last third occurs in diverse situation, including injuries to those inside buildings. 

How Do Lightning Injuries Affect People? 

Lightning tends to be a nervous system injury and may affect the brain, autonomic nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. When the brain is affected, the person often has difficulty with short-term memory, coding new information and accessing old information, multitasking, distractibility, irritability and personality change. 

"Patients have difficulty in all areas that require them to analyze more items of information than they can handle simultaneously. They present (appear) as slow because it takes longer for smaller than normal chunks of information to be processed. They present as distractible because they do not have the spare capacity to monitor irrelevant stimuli at the same time as they are attending to the relevant stimulus. They present as forgetful because while they are concentrating on point A, they do not have the processing space to think about point B simultaneously. They present as inattentive because when the amount of information that they are given exceeds their capacities, they cannot take it all in." 

Early on, survivors may complain of intense headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and other post-concussion types of symptoms. Survivors may also experience difficulty sleeping, sometimes sleeping excessively at first and then only two or three hours at a time. A few may develop seizure-like activity several weeks to months after the injury. 

Personality Changes / Self-Isolation 

Many lightning victims may suffer personality changes because of frontal lobe damage and become quite irritable and easy to anger. People who wake up after the injury often do not have the ability to express what is wrong with them, may not recognize much, become embarrassed when they cannot carry on a conversation, work at their previous job, or do the activities that they used to handle. As a result, many isolate themselves, withdrawing from church, friends, family and other activities. Friends, family and co-workers who see the same external person, may not understand why the survivor is so different. Friends soon stop coming by or asking them to participate in activities. Families who are not committed to each other break up. 

Obviously, depression becomes a big problem for people who have changed so much and lost so much. Suicide is something almost all severely injured people have thought about at one time or another. Occasionally, those who do not have access to medical care or who do not understand what is happening may resort to alcohol and other drugs, particularly those who have previously used these options. Family and friends of the survivor must remain supportive even though it may require an adjustment in their relationship with the survivor. An injury such as this affects the entire family, not just to the person hit. 


Survivors often complain of becoming exhausted after only a few hours of work. This may be because tasks they used to do automatically now require intense concentration. Many return to work but find that they cannot do all of the activities required at their job. 

Medical Testing 

There are two kinds of medical tests: 

Anatomic tests take a simple picture (x-ray) or measurement (blood count)

Functional tests show how something is working (PET, neuropsychological testing)

Sometimes function can be ascribed to the anatomic tests but often it cannot. The mental changes of a lightning survivor are functional (how the brain works) changes, not anatomic. Anatomic tests such as a CT scan and MRI are usually normal. More functional scans such as PET and SPECT may show changes but are hard to obtain due to their relative infrequency in medical centers. To use an analogy: if an electric shock were sent through a computer, the outside case would probably look OK (similar to a photo or x-rays of the person), the computer boards on the inside would probably look OK and not be fused nor melted (CT, MRI for the person), but when you boot up the computer it would have difficulty accessing files, making calculations, printing, etc. This situation is similar in a person with brain injury who has short-term memory problems, difficulty accessing and coding information, difficulty organizing output, etc. 

More useful is a functional test of how a person's brain is working: a neurocognitive or neuropsychological testing. These tests are administered by a neuropsychologist, not by a psychiatrist. The tests consist of a 6-8 hour battery of tests including memory, IQ and organizational ability. Survivors of lightning and electrical injury usually have a characteristic pattern of deficits. 

Delayed Problems 

Another common, often delayed, problem for some survivors is pain, also difficult to quantify and manage. The pain may not be from chronic intense headaches but may be in the back (perhaps from compression and disc injury from the intense muscle contractions which may throw a person several yards at the time of the injury), or in an extremity. Some may have nerve entrapment syndromes and a small number may eventually develop Sympathetically Mediated Pain Syndrome.

Sometimes the functional tests ordered are testing the wrong thing. An electromyogram (EMG) measures only the motor fibers, which are seldom affected by lightning injury. Smaller pain carrying nerve fibers are not tested by EMG so that a normal EMG means little when ordered for someone with pain. Likewise, the standard EEG primarily measure surface readings of the brain and misses seizure activity in several deeper regions. 

Decreased libido and impotence are often reported.

Lightning—The Underrated Killer 

Lightning—The Underrated Killer

In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes each year. Lightning can be fascinating to watch, but it is also extremely dangerous. During the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 67 people per year in the United States based on documented cases. This is more than the average of 65 deaths per year caused by tornadoes and the average of 16 deaths per year caused by hurricanes. However, because lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time, and because lightning does not cause the mass destruction left in the wake of tornadoes or hurricanes, lightning generally receives much less attention than the more destructive weather-related killers. While documented lightning injuries in the United States average about 300 per year, undocumented injuries caused by lightning are likely much higher.

Lightning Safety Awareness: Education is Key

Few people really understand the dangers of lightning. Many people don't act promptly to protect their lives, property and the lives of others because they don't understand all the dangers associated with thunderstorms and lightning. The first step in solving this problem is to educate people so that they become aware of the behavior that puts them at risk of being struck by lightning, and to let them know what they can do to reduce that risk. Coaches and other adults who make decisions affecting the safety of children must understand the dangers of lightning.

Watch for Developing Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are most likely to develop on warm summer days and go through various stages of growth, development and dissipation. On a sunny day, as the sun heats the air, pockets of warmer air start to rise in the atmosphere. When this air reaches a certain level in the atmosphere, cumulus clouds start to form. Continued heating can cause these clouds to grow vertically upward in the atmosphere into "towering cumulus" clouds. These towering cumulus may be one of the first indications of a developing thunderstorm.

The Lightning Discharge: Don't Be a Part of It

During a thunderstorm, each flash of cloud-to-ground lightning is a potential killer. The determining factor on whether a particular flash could be deadly depends on whether a person is in the path of the lightning discharge. In addition to the visible flash that travels through the air, the current associated with the lightning discharge travels along the ground. Although some victims are struck directly by the main lightning stroke, many victims are struck as the current moves in and along the ground. While virtually all people take some protective actions during the most dangerous part of thunderstorms, many leave themselves vulnerable to being struck by lightning as thunderstorms approach, depart, or are nearby.

An Approaching Thunderstorm: When to Seek Safe Shelter

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm. That's about the distance you can hear thunder. When a storm is 10 miles away, it may even be difficult to tell a storm is coming.


The first stroke of lightning is just as deadly as the last. If the sky looks threatening, take shelter before hearing thunder.

The 30-30 Rule

Use the 30-30 rule where visibility is good and there is nothing obstructing your view of the thunderstorm. When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is within 6 miles of you and is dangerous. Seek shelter immediately. The threat of lightning continues for much longer period than most people realize. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before leaving shelter. Don't be fooled by sunshine or blue sky!

If it is cloudy or objects are obscuring your vision, get inside immediately. It is always safer to take precautions than to wait. 

Outdoor Activities: Minimize the Risk of Being Struck

Most lightning deaths and injuries in the United States occur during the summer months when the combination of lightning and outdoor summertime activities reaches a peak. During the summer, people take advantage of the warm weather to enjoy a multitude of outdoor recreational activities. Unfortunately, those outdoor recreational activities can put them at greater risk of being struck by lightning. People involved in activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, bicycling, golfing, jogging, walking, hiking, camping, or working out of doors all need to take the appropriate actions in a timely manner when thunderstorms approach. Where organized sports activities take place, coaches, umpires, referees, or camp counselors must protect the safety of the participants by stopping the activities sooner, so that the participants and spectators can get to a safe place before the lightning threat becomes significant. To reduce the threat of death or injury, those in charge of organized outdoor activities should develop and follow a plan to keep participants and spectators safe from lightning.

Indoor Activities: Things to Avoid

Inside homes, people must also avoid activities which put their lives at risk from a possible lightning strike. As with the outdoor activities, these activities should be avoided before, during, and after storms. In particular, people should stay away from windows and doors and avoid contact with anything that conducts electricity. People may also want to take certain actions well before the storm to protect property within their homes, such as electronic equipment.

Helping a Lightning Strike Victim

If a person is struck by lightning, medical care may be needed immediately to save the person's life. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns, and nerve damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning. However, with proper treatment, including CPR if necessary, most victims survive a lightning strike, although the long-term effects on their lives and the lives of family members can be devastating.


Lightning is a dangerous threat to people in the United States, particularly those outside in the summer. With common sense, we can greatly reduce the number of lightning deaths. When thunderstorms threaten, get to a safe place, stay there longer than you think you need to, stay away from windows and doors and avoid contact with anything that conducts electricity.

Why do some clouds produce lightning and not others? 

How Powerful is Lightning?

Each spark of lightning can reach over five miles in length, soar to temperatures of approximately 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and contain 100 million electrical volts. 

Lightning Is A Random, Chaotic And Dangerous Fact Of Nature 

At any given moment, there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress somewhere on the earth. This amounts to 16 million storms each year! Scientists that study lightning have a better understanding today of the process that produces lightning, but there is still more to learn about the role of solar flares on the upper atmosphere, the earth's electromagnetic field, and ice in storms. We know the cloud conditions needed to produce lightning, but cannot forecast the location or time of the next stroke of lightning. There are lightning detection systems in the United States and they monitor an average of 25 million flashes of lightning from the cloud to ground every year! 

Lightning has been seen in volcanic eruptions, extremely intense forest fires, surface nuclear detonations, heavy snowstorms, and in large hurricanes, however, it is most often seen in thunderstorms. A thunderstorm forms in air that has three components: moisture, instability and something such as a cold front to cause the air to rise. Continued rising motions within the storm may build the cloud to a height of 35,000 to 60,000 feet (6 to 10 miles) above sea level. Temperatures higher in the atmosphere are colder; ice forms in the higher parts of the cloud. 

Ice In The Cloud Is Critical To The Lightning Process 

Ice in a cloud seems to be a key element in the development of lightning. Storms that fail to produce quantities of ice may also fail to produce lightning. In a storm, the ice particles vary in size from small ice crystals to larger hailstones, but in the rising and sinking motions within the storm there are a lot of collisions between the particles. This causes a separation of electrical charges. Positively charged ice crystals rise to the top of the thunderstorm, and negatively charged ice particles and hailstones drop to the middle and lower parts of the storm. Enormous charge differences (electrical differential) develops. 

How Lightning Develops Between The Cloud And The Ground 

A moving thunderstorm gathers another pool of positively charged particles along the ground that travel with the storm. As the differences in charges continue to increase, positively charged particles rise up taller objects such as trees, houses, and telephone poles. Have you ever been under a storm and had your hair stand up? Yes, the particles also can move up you! This is one of nature's warning signs that says you are in the wrong place, and you may be a lightning target! 

The negatively charged area in the storm will send out a charge toward the ground called a stepped leader. It is invisible to the human eye, and moves in steps in less than a second toward the ground. When it gets close to the ground, it is attracted by all these positively charged objects, and a channel develops. You see the electrical transfer in this channel as lightning. There may be several return strokes of electricity within the established channel that you will see as flickering lightning. 


The lightning channel heats rapidly to 50,000 degrees. The rapid expansion of heated air causes the thunder. Since light travels faster than sound in the atmosphere, the sound will be heard after the lightning. If you see lightning and hear thunder at the same time, that lightning is in your neighborhood! 

Negative Lightning And Positive Lightning 

Not all lightning forms in the negatively charged area low in the thunderstorm cloud. Some lightning originates in the cirrus anvil at the top of the thunderstorm. This area carries a large positive charge. Lightning from this area is called positive lightning. This type is particularly dangerous for several reasons. It frequently strikes away from the rain core, either ahead or behind the thunderstorm. It can strike as far as 5 or 10 miles from the storm, in areas that most people do not consider to be a lightning risk area. The other problem with positive lightning is it typically has a longer duration, so fires are more easily ignited. Positive lightning usually carries a high peak electrical current, which increases the lightning risk to an individual. 



Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard.

Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.

Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

The following are facts about tornadoes:

They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.

They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.

The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.

The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 MPH, but may vary from stationary to 70 MPH.

Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.

Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.

Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.

Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.

Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.

t to do Before a Tornado

Be alert to changing weather conditions.

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.

Look for approaching storms

Look for the following danger signs: 

Dark, often greenish sky

Large hail

A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)

Loud roar, similar to a freight train.

If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

What to Do During a Tornado

If you are under a tornado WARNING, seek shelter immediately!

If you are in: 


A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building)

Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows. 

A vehicle, trailer, or mobile home

Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.

The outside with no shelter

Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

Before You Enter Your Home

Walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.

Do not enter if:

You smell gas.

Floodwaters remain around the building.

Your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.

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Going Inside Your Home

When you go inside your home, there are certain things you should and should not do. Enter the home carefully and check for damage. Be aware of loose boards and slippery floors. The following items are other things to check inside your home:

Natural gas. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can. Call the gas company from a neighbor’s residence. If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve, you will need a professional to turn it back on. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles, or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.

Sparks, broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in water, or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. You may want to have an electrician inspect your wiring.

Roof, foundation, and chimney cracks. If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately.

Appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again. Also, have the electrical system checked by an electrician before turning the power back on.

Water and sewage systems. If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.

Food and other supplies. Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may have become contaminated or come in to contact with floodwater. Your basement. If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one third of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.

Open cabinets. Be alert for objects that may fall.

Clean up household chemical spills. Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Also clean salvageable items.

The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:

Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.

Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing and eyesight.









Move to a campground comfort station/washroom. Crouch and cover your head.

If there is no comfort station or washroom nearby, evacuate your tent or camper van. Lie down flat in a low-lying area and cover your head with your hands.

DO NOT get into your vehicle to escape a tornado! Strong tornadoes can overturn vehicles.

Courtesy of Environment Canada