The 10 Best and Safest Places to Hide During a Tornado

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If a tornado alert has been issued and you’re afraid it comes toward your home, it’s important to know the best safety precautions to ensure your safety. Hundreds of tornadoes happen every year in the US and no state can be considered completely safe as this extreme weather event has been documented throughout the country. While it may seem that you should only worry about a tornado if you live in rural Kansas, it’s better to be prepared for this powerful storm regardless of your location.

When it comes to staying safe during a tornado, timing is essential. Some tornadoes strike faster than a proper alert can be issued. If you know what to do and can take action quickly, you will be able to protect yourself and your family from danger. There’s not a lot of time for making decisions or planning when the tornado is close. You have to be properly prepared beforehand to avoid panicking and risking an injury.

Staying outside while a tornado is raging is always a very bad idea. You need to take shelter quickly somewhere indoors. There’s no way you can outrun a tornado so quickly reaching the safest spot inside your home is crucial. Whether you have a house or an apartment, check out the best places to hide during a tornado.

1. The Basement

Basement With Sturdy Workbench

If you live in a house equipped with a basement, you’re in luck. Going underground is the best protective measure you can take during a tornado. The basement or storm cellar provides superior protection compared to other rooms in the house. Try to find a sturdy item like a workbench to maximize safety by taking shelter underneath it.

When using a basement to hide during a tornado, it’s important to pick the right spot. Consider the heavy objects above the room and never stay under them while in the basement. The reason is that floors can collapse in the event of a powerful tornado causing heavy items to reach the basement.

Make sure you steer clear of windows if your basement has them. There’s a risk of being injured from the broken glass if you stay too close to the windows in any area of the home. That’s why it’s especially recommended to hide under some heavy object in the basement to get more reliable protection against glass shards or other falling debris.

2. Any Interior Room With no Windows

Indoor Room Without Windows

What do you do when you live in an apartment or a home with no basement? If going underground isn’t an option for you, the safest place to consider is an interior room featuring no windows. Remember the importance of avoiding windows during a tornado and find a suitable room to protect yourself. That could be a hall bathroom or a small closet room but make sure this room is on the lowest floor of the home.

Also, it’s recommended to take some extra safety precautions in case of damaging debris. Consider crouching low on the ground or wrapping yourself in a blanket. Use a helmet or your hands to protect your head from any potential injuries.

3. The Bathroom

Compact Bathroom

It might seem strange but the bathroom is one of the safest places to hide during a tornado. The walls are typically sturdier in this room because of the thick pipes that deliver some insulating protection. The bathroom is recommended even if it has windows, but you should take some extra precautions against falling debris.

Having a bathtub could be a great benefit because it lets you crouch and hide inside it. If you have the time, you should bring the mattress from the bedroom because it can be used as a reliable covering against glass shards and other debris. However, this may not always be practical, especially if your bathroom is pretty small.

4. The Closet

Walk in Closet

If you own a closet room underneath the stairs, this could serve as a good place to safely get through a tornado. Most closets are designed as interior rooms and they don’t have windows. Remove clothes and other heavy things that could be falling around during the tornado’s passing. Find some thick bedding that could be used to add further protection to your body while sitting crouched on the floor for the best protection.

5. The Nearest Stairwell

Apartment Building Staircase

Apartment dwellers who may be out of good options to protect themselves during a tornado can try seeking shelter somewhere in the building. If you don’t have the time to reach the lowest level of the building, the interior stairwell can be more protective in a pinch compared to your own apartment.

Keep in mind that you need to be careful if your building’s interior stairwell has windows. Try to find some cover from the windows and avoid taking the elevator downstairs because there’s a high risk of becoming trapped once the power is out. If you manage to go downstairs safely on the interior stairwell, try reaching the underground parking garage level.

6. Inside a Large Office Building Away From the Windows

Corporate Office Areas

When you’re at work, it’s recommended to follow the tornado drill which typically involves moving quickly to the nearest shelter location. If there’s no time to proceed to it, however, your best bet is to find the best shelter possible inside the office building. Avoid cafeterias or other large open rooms. Instead, search quickly for an interior room that doesn’t have any windows. It could be a bathroom or a storage room.

7. Indoor Parking Lot

Underground Parking Area

If a tornado comes when you’re shopping at the mall, it’s strongly recommended to reach the lowest level of the building. You can safely hide in an indoor parking lot which should be able to act as a good shelter against the immense pressure generated by a tornado. Shopping malls, theaters, and other long-span buildings are particularly vulnerable to tornado damage. The roof can easily collapse and cause injuries. Going underground is much safer. If there’s no time to reach the parking lot, try to at least find a sturdy door frame or anything else that can withstand falling debris.

8. Inside a Shipping Container

Metal Shipping Container

A shipping container can serve well as a place to hide during a tornado. However, the construction method matters a lot. Only those shipping containers that have been properly secured to the ground will be able to resist the power of a strong tornado. You should only consider a shipping container as a viable tornado shelter if it’s buried deep into the ground. Otherwise, the tornado can lift the entire metal container with you inside it. This is potentially more dangerous as you can get slammed around the metal box and severely injured.

9. A Community Storm Shelter

Community Storm Shelter

In an ideal scenario, you should quickly move to the nearest community storm shelter if a tornado alert has been issued. Whether you’re at home, at school, or working, your best bet is to find one of these shelters as fast as possible. The safe rooms have been specially designed to protect against the devastating winds of a tornado. They’re typically made from sturdy steel and can accommodate groups of people to ensure maximum security in the event of hazardous weather events. Knowing in advance the location of a community storm shelter nearby can save your life if a tornado strikes unexpectedly.

10. A Low-Laying Area Such as a Ravine, Culvert or Ditch (Last Resort)

Ditch on a Field

Tornadoes are most dangerous when you find yourself outdoors, far away from any interior shelter. There’s no time to reach any building if you’re outside and the tornado is very close. Try to suppress the instinct telling you to hop on a vehicle and outrun the tornado. Chances are very slim that you can do that. In this kind of tough situation, the last resort solution is to search for a ditch or ravine. Any low-laying area will work, but make sure there aren’t too many trees around. It’s preferable to get away from your vehicle if possible. Lie flat in the ditch and use your arms to keep your head protected from any falling debris.

Do you live in an area with hurricanes or earthquakes? Learn where to hide in those situations.


One response to “The 10 Best and Safest Places to Hide During a Tornado”

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    April Riggs


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