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Office of Emergency Management
Tornadoes

Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Tornados have occurred in Prince William County in the past, and are considered a high risk for the County. 

Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival. Be prepared to act quickly. There are no tornado sirens in Prince William County.

GET YOUR FAMILY READY FOR A TORNADO

  • Know the terms:
    • Tornado Watch:  A tornado is possible in your area.  You should monitor weather-alert radios and local radio and TV stations for information.
    • Tornado Warning:  A tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.
  • Decide now where you will go in case of a tornado warning.  Keep this safe location uncluttered.
    • Storm cellars or basements give the best protection.
    • If an underground shelter is not available, go into a windowless interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.  Go to the center of the room.  Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
    • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor.  Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
    • A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Go to a nearby sturdy building, or lie down in a ditch away from your home, covering your head with your hands.  Mobile homes are extremely unsafe during tornadoes.
  • Keep your emergency supply kit in your shelter location.
  • Practice a tornado drill at least once a year.

If in a structure (e.g. residence or building):      

  • Go to a pre-designated 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.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Do not open windows.

If in a trailer or mobile home:

  • 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.

If outside with no shelter:          

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

IF YOU ARE AWAY FROM HOME, TAKE THESE STEPS:

  • Open buildings (shopping mall, gym or civic center):  Try to get into a restroom or interior hallway.  If there is no time, get up against something that will support or deflect falling debris.  Protect your head by covering it with your arms.
  • Cars and trucks: Get out of your vehicle and try to find shelter inside a sturdy building.  A culvert or ditch can provide shelter if a substantial building is not nearby.  Lie down flat and cover your head with your hands.  Do not get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low, flat location.

For more information go to: https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes

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