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Every year, hundreds of tornadoes are sighted nationwide. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you through.
- After the Tornado
- Working With Authorities
- Financial Assistance
- Insured — Filing a Claim
- Returning to Your Property
- Plan Ahead
- Additional Information

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WHN TIP: Tornado Watch or Warning Just Issued?

Read top emergency preparedness and safety tips from the experts here.

After the Tornado

  1. Call 9-1-1 if you need emergency assistance. Describe the injuries to the 911 operator and listen to their instructions.
  2. WHN TIP: Be Patient.

    Assistance may be in short supply and a long time coming depending on the extent of the tornado area or due to tornado-caused flooding.

  3. Listen to a battery or crank-powered radio or television. The local media will let you know about local, state and federal relief plans as appropriate.
  4. Pay strict attention to instructions from emergency management and law enforcement agencies. Obey all curfews and emergency orders that are issued.
  5. Stay away from nearby disaster areas unless local authorities request volunteers.
  6. Avoid driving until conditions have improved. Watch or listen to your local news for road closure information.
    • Debris and washed-out roads may make driving dangerous. Check vehicles for damage before using and give way to emergency vehicles at all times.
    • Stay away from flooded roads, rising streams and storm drains. The power of moving water could sweep you into trouble and you do not know how deep the water actually is.
  7. Be aware of fire and electrocution possibilities.
    • Report fires to the fire department. Be alert to prevent fires, as broken water mains may cause a reduction in water pressure. Lightning and downed power lines can cause fires.
    • Avoid standing water. It may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
    • Lost power? Tips on what to do if the power fails...



Working With Authorities

After a tornado, local and regional authorities — such as sheriff or police officers, firefighters, ambulance services and state or municipal service workers — may be dispatched to severely affected areas. Relief organizations and volunteers might be dispatched as well. Read Who Will Help You.

It’s a hard time; yet remember to tell interested friends and relatives that you are safe. Read our Contacting Others article for quick tips on telling your loved ones about what happened and that you're safe.

WHN TIP: Media

Tornadoes make captivating news. A reporter may ask to speak with you. Remember, it is your choice whether or not to grant an interview. It is OK to pause and reflect for a moment on your and your family's welfare before you decide whether to answer their questions. Learn how the media reports on disasters...

Financial Assistance

Depending on the severity of the tornado, the time it takes to receive financial assistance may vary. Remember to contact all possible options for assistance: your insurance agent, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army other faith-based organizations, and other options.

Read Financial Assistance, Filing for Federal Relief and Types of Disaster Aid. All three offer tips on navigating FEMA, SBA and the federal disaster relief and assistance process.

If You Have Insurance — Filing a Claim

Read Filing a Claim for information on questions to ask your agent, how to keep detailed records and the claims process.

Returning To Your Property

Be safe, be smart. If you’ve been displaced, all you may be able to think about is getting back home. Wait!


As tough as it may be to hear this: a swift return may not be best for you, your family or your property. You may jeopardize your safety as well as your family’s financial security (by hindering your insurance claim).

More importantly, you must wait until authorities have declared it is safe to return to your home. If they have given the go-ahead, please read and print out our comprehensive checklist of what to check for outside, before entering and inside your home. The article includes a checklist of items to take with you and items to retrieve.

Read Document the Damage for tips on taking pictures and cataloguing your losses for insurance purposes.

  • Need help spotting and documenting exterior damage after a storm? Read How to Spot Storm Damage for tips from a catastrophe insurance adjuster.

If you are temporarily or permanently moving back home, read Moving Back Home for general safety and health tips.

Again, please do not return home until authorities have declared your home and neighborhood to be safe.

Need to make repairs or rebuild your home? Read our Home Repairs After a Storm article.

Plan Ahead

  1. Replace the items used from your Home Disaster Preparedness Kit and your Car Emergency Kit.
  2. Review and update your emergency plan.
    • Take the time to evaluate what you would do differently if you had the chance.
    • Be sure to evaluate all aspects of your plan: evacuation plan, home and family preparedness, disaster kits, etc.
  3. Read Tornado - Get Prepared for more.

Additional Information

Remember ...

The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a doctor, lawyer or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or healthcare-related decisions.

Thank you ...

A special thank you to the first responders, emergency workers, government officials, lawyers, insurance agents and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice. And, thanks to the sites in our Links section.


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