Tornado Preparedness Week Day 2: What to Do

PEARL – On the second day of Tornado Preparedness Week, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service want to highlight the importance of learning the dangers of tornadoes and what you should do if one threatens.

In 2012, Mississippi experienced nearly 50 tornadoes, resulting in 22 injuries. Tornadoes are one of the greatest weather threats our residents face each year, but knowing what to do during a tornado will increase your chances of survival.

Tornadoes spawn from powerful thunderstorms and can cause deaths and devastate neighborhoods in seconds, sometimes with little warning.

A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can be in excess of 200 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Mississippi averages 29 tornadoes and seven deaths per year according to the National Weather Service.

Below is what you should do if a tornado threatens:

If you are in your home:

  • Go to the lowest level of the home, an inner hallway, or smaller interior room without windows, such as a closet or bathroom and cover yourself with pillows or blankets. You can also put on a helmet, like one for a bicycle, to protect your head.
  • Get away from windows and go to the center of the room.
  • Get under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a workbench or a heavy table.

If you are in a mobile home:

  • Evacuate the mobile home, even if it is equipped with tie-downs.
  • Take shelter in a building with a strong foundation, or if one is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying area that is a safe distance away from the mobile home.
  • Tornadoes do not change elevation quickly enough to pick someone up out of a ditch, especially a deep ditch or culvert.

If you are at work or school:

  • Go to an inside hallway at the lowest level of the building.
  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs, such as auditoriums unless they are a designed safe room, cafeterias, large hallways or shopping malls.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

If you are outdoors:

  • If possible, get inside a sturdy building with a concrete foundation.
  • If shelter is not available, or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building.

If you are in a vehicle:

  • Never try to out drive a tornado. Tornadoes can lift a car and toss it in the air.
  • If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the vehicle and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle.

Gov. Phil Bryant proclaimed the week of Oct. 28-Nov. 1 as Tornado Preparedness Week in Mississippi.

For more information, contact MEMA External Affairs at 866-920-MEMA (6362), or visit us online at  Follow us on Facebook as there are tornado trivia questions to win two portable weather radios this week courtesy of Midland and the Mississippi Civil Defense and Emergency Managers Association.  You can also download the new MEMA phone app for your Android or iPhone.

You may also visit the National Weather Service for more tornado preparedness information at