Last Updated: March 11, 2022
It’s Tornado Awareness Month! Tornadoes continue to be one of the most destructive and costly natural disasters that can happen within a matter of minutes. Tornadoes occur throughout the year at any time, but most frequently from March to September. “Tornado Alley” and “Dixie Alley” are areas in the Great Plains and Deep South that get hit each year with high numbers of tornadoes. However, it’s important to know that tornadoes can occur and have been reported in all fifty states!
According to the most recent report from the Statista Research Department, tornadoes resulted in approximately $2.5 billion worth of damage across the U.S. in 2020. A tornado can cause significant damage to your home or business. On average, 1,200 tornadoes, some with wind speeds as high as 300 mph, occur annually throughout the U.S. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the 2021 season alone saw 1,376 tornado reports.
How To Prepare Before A Tornado
There is nothing anyone can do to prevent them, but there are plenty of things you can do to prepare.
- Make a Plan: Ensure you have an evacuation and emergency readiness plan and communicate it with family, friends, and staff members. Ensure that your Business Continuity Plan is completed and tested.
- Check Your Insurance Policy: Ensure you have adequate coverage be sure to review regularly or at least once a year so you understand your policy, deductibles, and exclusions. At Mitchell Adjusting, we review policies and insurance claims for property owners who have experienced storm damage. Many policyholders find out they’ve purchased inadequate policies after a major storm event and by then, it’s too late. Check out our article on Understanding Your Insurance Policy, Coverage, and Deductibles.
- Take Inventory: Take photos and videos of your property and possessions in the event you need to file an insurance claim. Store important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards and insurance policies in a fire and water-proof safe place and online. Conduct a home and/or business inventory.
- Protect your Home and/or Business: Windows and doors can be damaged by high winds, so consider installing impact windows and storm shutters for your properties. Impact windows are built out of glass that is resistant to breakage from wind-blown debris. Storm shutters are usually made of metal or wood and can be closed to cover up exterior windows completely offering similar protection from debris. Regularly trim trees and branches that are near your property.
- Monitor and Download Weather Apps & Alerts: Ensure you have access to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV to get the latest emergency information from local authorities. Set up Wireless Emergency Alerts on your mobile phone.
- Know the Signs: A funnel-shaped cloud that extends towards the ground is perhaps the most commonly known sign. Pay attention to these other cues that could warn you of a nearby tornado: dark, green-colored sky; hail; a loud roar that sounds like a freight train; dust and debris falling from the sky; a severe thunderstorm; a large, dark, low-lying cloud. Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. If you see any of these danger signs, take shelter immediately!
- Vetted Professionals: Have a list of preferred experts available, including a licensed public adjuster, licensed general contractor, licensed roofing contractor, electrician, plumber, and a water/flood remediation company.
Know the Difference Between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning
A Tornado Watch is issued when a tornado is possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch and listen to the radio for updated information. A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicted by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
The Enhanced Fujita Scale or EF Scale below determines the strength of a tornado based on the damage they cause. This “rating” is based on estimated wind speeds and related damage. Meteorologists can also estimate a tornado’s peak gust based on assessments of the damage.
How To Stay Safe During A Tornado
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flying debris causes the most deaths and injuries during a tornado. When a tornado warning sounds or a tornado has been sighted, seek shelter immediately!
- If you’re in a home or building, move to the basement or a safe room. If these aren’t available, go to a lower-level small, interior, windowless room. Once you’re there, get as close to the ground as much as you can and stay far away from the windows.
- If you’re in a vehicle, don’t try to outrun a tornado. Go to the nearest building as quickly as you can. If there’s no building, take cover in a low-lying area such as a ditch, away from trees or other objects that could be blown towards you.
- Don’t stay in a mobile home during a tornado. Mobile homes can turn over during strong winds. Go to a nearby building, preferably one with a basement.
What To Do After A Tornado
- Only go inside the property until it’s cleared by the emergency personnel. If you smell gas or chemical fumes, immediately evacuate the area and contact authorities. Stay away from power lines and broken glass. Be aware of the possibility of broken gas lines and chemical spills.
- Take photos and video footage of your property damage and possessions for your insurance claim.
- Contact a licensed Public Adjuster to help you through the insurance claim process. PAs review your policy and coverage, conduct damage assessments, gather paperwork, and work with industry experts to submit the necessary details to process your claim effectively. Check out our article: What Is A Public Adjuster?
- Obtain inspections and quotes from licensed general contractors, roofing contractors, and/or water remediation companies for your property damage restoration.
MITCHELL ADJUSTING: FREE INSURANCE POLICY REVIEWS & DAMAGE ASSESSMENTS!
Damaged? Denied? Underpaid? With over 25 years of experience, our expert team of Licensed Public Adjusters at Mitchell Adjusting International, LLC take the confusion out of the insurance claim process and help you get a fair settlement. We review your policy, assess your damage, perform an expert property inspection, meet with your insurance company, contractors, and restoration professionals, and handle all of the confusing paperwork and legalese. Whether you have new damage, a claim that was previously denied, or a claim that you think may have been underfunded, we advocate for fairness on behalf of you. Contact us for a free assessment!
- Ready.Gov: Emergency Supply Checklist
- FEMA: Safe Rooms
- Insurance Information Institute: Tornadoes and Insurance
- Mitchell Adjusting International: Understanding Your Insurance Policy, Coverage & Deductibles
- Mitchell Adjusting International: What Is A Public Adjuster?
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association: Storm Prediction Center
- NOAA: National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL): Severe Weather 101- Tornadoes
- CDC: During a Tornado
- Statista Research Department: Economic Damage Caused By Tornadoes in the U.S. 1995-2019