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Save the Children Urges Families to Prepare for Severe Weather with 10 Tips for Protecting Children from Tornadoes


Weather forecasts are warning that as many as 100 tornadoes could occur across multiple states in the central U.S. over the next few days. Save the Children urges families to take precautions now and to include children in the process.

Tornadoes pose more than a physical threat to children. By damaging and destroying homes, schools and child care centers, tornadoes can severely disrupt children’s lives and threaten their emotional and developmental wellbeing.

Nearly one year after the devastating tornadoes that hit in and around Oklahoma City and Moore, Oklahoma, Save the Children continues to serve children in Central Oklahoma, helping them recover emotionally and develop essential coping skills.

Preparedness not only helps protect children physically, it empowers them to constructively face their fears and build resiliency.

10 Tips for Protecting Children from Tornadoes

Tornadoes usually develop in warm, moist air ahead of cold fronts and have been reported in every U.S. state. Although tornadoes can cause a lot of damage, injuries and even death, families can take tornado-specific precautions to help protect children in these situations.


1. Get ready and Stay informed. When weather is predicted to be severe, monitor the news so you’ll know if your area is at risk and when to take action. Plan now, before the weather may worsen.

2. Talk about tornadoes. Discuss with your family why tornadoes occur and that they are not anybody’s fault. Explain what the signs are, since tornadoes can strike before an official warning is issued. Signs include dark, often greenish clouds; large hail; cloud of debris, funnel cloud; or a roaring noise.

3. Learn your caregivers’ disaster plans, such as how your children’s school or child care center would respond to a tornado.

4. Practice tornado drills with your family.


5.Seek immediate shelter in a tornado-safe room if you are in the path of a tornado. The safest place in the home is the interior part of a basement. If you do not have a basement or storm cellar, consider an interior bathroom, closet, or hallway on the lowest floor.

6. If outside or in a mobile home, seek cover in a designated shelter or nearby sturdy building. If there is no building nearby, lie flat in a low spot, making sure it is not a drainage area that could easily fill with water in the case of flash flooding. Use your arms and hands to protect your head and neck.

7. Wear a helmet for extra protection. Families should always seek appropriate shelter first. However, wearing a helmet may provide additional protection since head injuries are common from tornadoes.


8. Stay informed after a tornado strikes by continuing to listen to a radio or television station for updates.

9. Involve children in recovery. After a tornado, include your children in clean-up activities if it is safe to do so. It is comforting to children to watch the household begin to return to normal and to have a job to do.

10. Listen to children if your family has been affected by a tornado. Encourage your child to express feelings of fear. Listen carefully, show understanding, and offer reassurance.

Be familiar with the following definitions to help prepare your family for tornadoes.

Tornado WATCH means that tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. People in a watch area should review their tornado plans (Family Disaster Plan, Disaster Supplies Kit, tornado safe room), and be ready to act if a warning is issued or they suspect a tornado is approaching.

Tornado WARNING means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. People in a warning area should go immediately to their safe room. If they are in a vehicle, they should get out of the vehicle and go to shelter in a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a low spot away from the vehicle.


To help Save the Children prepare communities and to respond when disaster strikes, please donate to the U.S. Emergencies Fund.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


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