Tornado Safety Tips and How to Get Alerts on Your Phone

Canada is ranked second in the world for the frequency of tornado strikes, with an average of 70 per year.

Canada is ranked second in the world for the frequency of tornado strikes, with an average of 70 per year (Bezte).  While tornadoes have hit almost all regions of Canada, the Southern areas of Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan and Central Alberta are the most common (Bezte).  Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that can cause massive damage.  They can involve winds of over 200 MPH and can occur anytime, anywhere (Ready Gov, n.d.). They often inspire both awe and fear, especially if you have never lived through a tornado before.


Tornado season in Canada is typically April through October, with a peak in June, July and August (Bezte).  However, tornadoes are capable of being produced year-round.  They could be separate events or could be in conjunction with other natural disasters.  This means that preparation must occur well before a storm or threat emerges.

Environment Canada issues both tornado warnings and tornado watches.  A Tornado Watch is issued when conditions are ripe for tornadoes to form but does not mean one has been identified.  Stay alert and pay attention to weather reports and alerts. A Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado has been spotted either by a person or according to radar.  This is when you need to evacuate to a safe spot.  Do not leave this area until the warning has expired. By the time a warning has been issued you often have very little time and must be prepared to act quickly to stay safe.

Listen to this podcast episode by EPIC podcast on the topic of Tornadoes with guest Kyle Fougere at Environment Canada.

Here is a list of things that can help you stay safe:

  1. Find a safe place to go. Look for a space with no windows like a basement, cellar or storm shelter.  If this isn’t an option go to a small, interior space like a closet, under a stairwell, or into an interior bathroom tub.    Using a heavy table or desk is also an option.  Discuss safe spaces with your family so everyone knows where to go in the event of a tornado. Get as close to ground as you are able, watch for flying debris, and use your arms to protect your head and neck (Ready Gov).  What should you not do during a tornado? If possible, avoid cars and mobile homes as half of all deaths from tornadoes happen in mobile homes (Government of Canada).  Stay away from windows, doors, breakables, and outside walls and do not use elevators.  Do not use a bridge underpass for protection as you are safer in a low, flat location.
  2. Gather Supplies. This is essential as tornadoes can be part of bigger storms.  This step should be done well in advance of a tornado occurring to be effective.  What should you pack in case of a tornado?  The following is a list of suggesting items in an emergency kit:

Emergency Kit for Preparing for a Tornado:

  • one gallon of water per person, per day, for at least 3 days
  • enough non-perishable food to last each person 3 days
  • battery-powered weather radio
  • several flashlights
  • extra batteries
  • prescription medication
  • first aid kit
  • clothes and closed-toed shoes for every person
  1. Tornado Prep your home. In places where tornadoes happen regularly you may want to invest in technology that will protect your home.  Examples include storm windows, heavy-duty doors, and protection for the foundation and structure.
  2. Stay alert and aware. In some cases, you may only need to stay in your safe place for 15 minutes, but others could require you to stay put for hours or days.  Listen for local authorities to give the all clear before you leave your safe space.  Tornadoes can be deceptive and may look like they are standing still even while moving towards you.
  3. Once a storm has passed, check your supplies and ensure they are restocked as soon as possible to be prepared for the next event.

Read what the Canadian Red Cross has to say about preparing for tornadoes here:

Choosing how you receive emergency alerts is vital.  This past weekend I saw several people in my family that I haven’t seen in months.  While we were together there was a tornado in our area.  While this is not unheard of, it is not a common occurrence.  My phone went off several times with a tornado warning telling me to find shelter immediately, but not everyone’s did.  The potential outcome of not receiving a timely alert could have had extremely negative consequences.  Download the Alertable app today to receive up to date information about severe weather in your area, including tornado alerts.

Related posts:Personal Disaster Preparedness; 72-Hour Kits

What are other tips we could talk about? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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