Severe Weather: Get the Facts. Know How to Act.

Main Content
Release date: 
March 4, 2014
Release Number: 
RV-NR-2014 -18

CHICAGO – Do you know your tornado and severe weather risks and what to do if bad weather threatens your community? FEMA wants to make sure you’re not relying on severe weather myths when it comes to keeping your family safe.

"Severe weather can strike unexpectedly, but there are steps you can take to prepare for it,” said Andrew Velasquez III, regional administrator, FEMA Region V. "Learn your risk and what to do now so you're ready to act in dangerous weather conditions."

Myth 1: Urban areas and communities near lakes, rivers, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.

Fact & Act: No place is safe from tornadoes. Ensure you know the warning system in your community and where to go in the event of a tornado. Contact your local emergency management office to learn the warning system in your area. Outdoor warning sirens are intended to alert individuals who are already outside, so it is important to have a weather radio so you’ll be aware of dangerous weather no matter where you are.

Myth 2:Tornadoes aren’t a risk during the winter months.

Fact & Act: Although the likelihood is lowerduring colder months, tornadoes are a risk any time of year. Most recently, an outbreak of destructive tornadoes hit southern Illinois on February 29, 2012; two days later, a second string caused widespread damage in southern Indiana. It’s important to have a family preparedness plan year-round to ensure you’re always ready for severe weather.

Myth 3:Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.

Fact & Act: Opening windows doesn’t reduce the risk of home damage from a tornado or severe weather. Instead, close windows tokeep high winds out and minimize damage from flying debris.

Myth 4: If a tornado hits while you’re driving, seek shelter under highway overpasses.

Fact & Act: Do not seek shelter under highway overpasses or under bridges – these areas can actually become dangerous wind tunnels that collect flying debris. If possible, you should drive away from the tornado or seek shelter in a nearby structure. If a shelter isn’t available,and driving away is not an option, stay in the car with the seat belt on, placing your head below the window and covering it with your hands. If you can safely get lower than the roadway, exit your car, lie in that area and coveryour head with your hands.

Myth 5: Staying in a mobile home is safer than going outside.

Fact & Act: Evacuate immediately! Mobile homes are vulnerable to overturning and destruction from strong winds and tornadoes. If possible, leave and go to a community shelter. If no shelter is available, a ditch, culvert, or other low lying area may offer better protection, but be wary that debris tends to collect in these areas and flash flooding may be possible as well. Have a plan of action prepared before a storm hits.

You can always find valuable tips to help you prepare for severe weather at www.ready.gov/severe-weather and or download the free FEMA app, available for your Android, Apple or Blackberry device. Visit the site or download the app today so you have the information you need to prepare for severe weather.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow FEMA online at twitter.com/femaregion5, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

Media Contact: Cassie Ringsdorf, 312-408-4455

Last Updated: 
March 5, 2014 - 12:18
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Back to Top