Tornadoes: Before, During & After

A house that has been damaged by a tornadoWinds within a tornado can reach speeds of up to 500 km/h. Regardless of size, tornadoes have the ability to uproot trees, flip cars and damage homes. The best way to protect yourself and your family in case of a tornado is to follow these steps:

  • Pay attention to weather watches and warnings.
  • Move your family to a safe location on the lowest level of a building. Stay away from windows, outside walls and doors. 


  • Know your tornado risk by contacting your local authorities. Know how warnings are given for tornadoes and ensure your family is familiar with the alert. 
  • Visit Environment Canada for up to date information on tornado conditions, storm maps and weather warnings. 
  • Know the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch:

    • A tornado warning means a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. Evacuate if advised to do so.
    • A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area. Stay alert for more information.
  • Pay attention to weather warnings.
  • Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a tornado, preferably a basement. Make sure it is away from external doors, windows and walls. 
  • If you are in a highrise, pick a place in a hallway in the centre of the building. Talk to your building superintendent or manager and know your building emergency plan.
  • Have practice drills with your family, so you know what to do and are prepared.


  • If a tornado watch or warning has been issued, head to a safe location, like a basement or lower level of the building. Stay away from external doors, windows and walls. 
  • Continue to listen to local news and weather reports for updates.
Watch for danger signs:
  • Dark, often greenish or orange-grey skies.
  • Large hail.
  • Large, dark, low-lying, rotating or funnel-shaped clouds.
  • Roaring noise – similar to the sound of a freight train.
  • Wait for the all clear before leaving your safe location.
  • Lie flat in a ditch or a low-lying area if you are outside and there is no shelter nearby.
  • Get out immediately and head for safety if you are in a car or mobile home. It is unsafe to stay in your vehicle as it could be picked up, blown over or roll over you.
  • Listen to the radio for further information and instructions.
  • If you are away from home, only return home when it is safe to do so.
  • Check on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours who may require assistance.
  • Stay away from damaged areas and fallen power lines.
  • If you suspect your home is unsafe, do not enter. Rely on the professionals to clear your home for re-entry, if you are unsure.
  • Once you return home, take the opportunity to review your family emergency plan and restock your personalized preparedness kit. 
  • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes when examining your home for damage.
  • Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.
  • Check with local authorities on how to properly dispose of damaged items from your home.

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