Tornado Safety Tips

Tornado Watch or Tornado Warning?

A 'Tornado Watch' is announced when weather and climate conditions are such that it may lead to actual tornados forming in a specific area. A 'Tornado Warning' is issued when a fully formed tornado has been identified. Both indicate severe weather conditions and residents should stay alert even when an official 'warning' has not been issued. See the graphic below to help remember which term applies to which condition:

taco warning

The following tips are taken from FEMA. For more information, please visit their website and read more about tornadoes.

What 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:
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • 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 in:

  • A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building):
    • Then go to a predesignated 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:
    • Then 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. 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 and overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • The outside with no shelter:
    • 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.

Edwardsville Community Center Protocols During Tornados

The Edwardsville Community Center (696 s. 3rd St.) also serves as the City's tornado shelter. This facility is open to individuals and families who may not have the appropriate protection against severe weather in their own homes. In the case of a Tornado Warning, the Edwardsville Fire Department will unlock the doors to the Community Center if they are not currently responding to an emergency call. If they are responding, Edwardsville Public Works staff will unlock the doors. Please note that animals are not allowed inside the facility during these weather events. Animals confined in small spaces pose a potential threat to those around them and may also present challenges if other members of the public are allergic to certain kinds of pet dander.