Avoid being unprepared for the devastation and calamity tornadoes cause when they touch down and roar through your community. Knowing how to prepare and what to expect during and after such a disaster will help get you quickly on your feet.
New Image Roofing Atlanta assembled this comprehensive guide for tornado preparedness, damage mitigation, and recovery.
Tornado Watch Vs. Tornado Warning
When weather conditions are primed for tornado formation, the National Weather Service (NWS) will issue advisories to all communities in that area. Some people still confuse the difference between a watch and a warning. Consider the following explanations:
Tornado Watch – issued by the NWS when weather conditions in an area suggest an increased severe weather risk capable of producing a tornado.
Tornado Warning – The NWS releases a Tornado Warning when a tornado has been observed or detected by weather radar. A warning means you should immediately seek shelter.
Tornadoes are unpredictable and destructive natural forces that can wreak havoc on homes and communities. Being prepared for these emergencies is crucial to ensuring your loved one’s safety and minimizing potential damages. Here’s how you can stay a step ahead:
Create and Rehearse an Emergency Plan – Develop a detailed emergency plan including a designated safe room or shelter in or near your home. Practice tornado drills with your family to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go when a tornado warning is issued.
Put Together an Emergency Kit (Evacuation Go-Bag) – Assemble a comprehensive emergency kit containing essentials like water, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, clothes, important documents, and medications. Keep the kit in your designated safe area for easy access during a tornado.
Creating an evacuation go-bag is a crucial step in emergency preparedness. In times of crisis, having a well-equipped bag ready to go can make a significant difference. Here are the essential items for an emergency kit or evacuation go-bag:
1. Identification and Important Documents
- Personal identification (ID, passport, driver’s license)
- Emergency contact information
- Insurance information
- Medical records and prescriptions
- Copies of important documents (insurance, birth certificates, marriage certificates, deeds)
2. Communication Essentials
- Fully charged cell phone and charger
- Multiple charged device batteries
- Portable power bank
- Battery-operated or hand-crank radio
- Emergency whistle
3. First Aid Kit
- Adhesive bandages and sterile dressings
- Antiseptic wipes
- Pain relievers (aspirin, ibuprofen)
- Prescription medications
- Tweezers and scissors
- First aid manual
4. Clothing and Personal Items
- 2 or 3 changes of clothes (including undergarments and socks)
- Sturdy shoes or boots
- Hat and gloves
- Rain poncho or jacket
- Personal hygiene necessities (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, feminine hygiene products)
- Bath and hand towels
5. Shelter and Bedding
- Lightweight, compact emergency shelter (tent or tarp)
- Sleeping bag or blanket
- Travel pillows
- Space-saving emergency blankets or wraps
6. Nutrition and Hydration
- Non-perishable, easy-to-open food items (granola bars, energy bars, canned goods)
- Bottled water or water purification tablets
- Compact water filter or purification system
- Lightweight mess kit or reusable utensils
Note: Some companies like Ready Hour, Augason Farms, and My Patriot Supply produce shelf-stable meals and snacks packaged for long-term storage (similar to MREs issued to troops by the military).
7. Tools and Multi-Function Items
- Multipurpose tool or knife (Swiss Army knife)
- Duct tape
- Ropes or paracord
- LED flashlights with extra batteries
- Glow sticks
8. Navigation and Maps
- Local maps
- GPS device (Device service may be interrupted if not satellite-enabled)
- Whistle with a compass and thermometer
9. Cash and Important Cards
- Cash (including coins)
- Credit/debit cards
- Prepaid phone card
Note: Convenience stores, supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants depend on power and connectivity to process credit or debit card payments.
10. Personal Comfort Items
- Notepad, post-its, and pen
- Entertainment items (book, playing cards)
- Comfort items for children (stuffed animals, toys, games)
11. Miscellaneous Items
- Face masks
- Emergency contact information for friends and family members
- Compact umbrella
- Personal protection items (gloves, long-sleeve shirts, masks, etc.)
- Sanitation and waste disposal supplies (toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, wet wipes, soap, etc.)
12. Special Needs Items
- Baby formula and diapers (if applicable)
- Specialized medical equipment or supplies
- Pet essentials (if evacuating with pets)
Customize your go-bag based on your and your family’s specific needs. Periodically review and update the contents to ensure everything is in good condition and that it meets your current needs. Consider the climate and potential hazards in your region when assembling items for your evacuation go-bag.
Stay Informed – Stay updated on weather forecasts and tornado warnings. Invest in a NOAA weather radio for real-time alerts. Additionally, download weather apps (The Weather Channel) on your smartphone to receive notifications and updates.
Read more about NOAA weather radios and programming at weather.gov/mob/nwr
Fortify Your Home – Consider reinforcing your home by installing storm shutters, impact-resistant windows, and a reinforced roof. These measures can help minimize damage caused by strong winds and flying debris.
Tornado Damages – Roof and Home
Tornadoes impact varied locations across the country every year, bringing tremendous winds and destruction (from minor cosmetic damages to catastrophic structural failures) in their paths. Although tornadoes are most common in the Central Plains, the Midwest, and the Southeast, they have been reported in all 50 states. Consider the following hazards:
Wind Damage – Tornadoes generate powerful winds capable of causing extensive roof, gutter, siding, and window damage. Check for loose or missing shingles, damaged gutters and siding, and broken windows after a tornado has passed.
Tip: Have your roofing system thoroughly inspected by a professional roofer and repaired or reinforced before a storm system ravages your community.
Flying Debris – Tornadoes can lift and hurl debris at high speeds, leading to significant structural damage. Inspect your property for signs of impact, like dents or punctures in the roof, siding, and windows.
Note: Keep all lawn furniture and decorations safely stored when not in use and move potted plants indoors when the weather looks ominous.
Tip: Have trees annually inspected and pruned to keep them healthy and sturdy.
Water Damage – Tornadoes are often accompanied by hail and significant rainfall. Inspect your home for water leaks and damage to ceilings, walls, and floors. Promptly address any water-related issues to prevent mold and further deterioration.
Structural Damage – Tornadoes can compromise a home’s structural integrity. Look for leaning walls, sagging ceilings, or any potential foundation issues. Structural damages should be addressed promptly to avoid costly problems.
Emergency Services (Post Tornado)
After experiencing a tornado’s immense power and destruction, you may experience a sense of helplessness. The following services will help you get your bearings:
Emergency Response Teams – After a tornado, local emergency response teams and agencies will be on the scene to provide immediate assistance. Follow their instructions and seek shelter in designated areas.
Medical Assistance – In a tornado’s aftermath, medical assistance may be required. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will be deployed and on hand to provide aid and attend to any injuries promptly.
Utility Restoration – Contact utility companies to report gas leaks, electrical issues, or water supply disruptions. Strictly avoid using damaged utilities until they have been inspected and deemed safe by professionals.
Community Support – Local community centers, churches, and shelters may provide assistance, including food, water, clothing, transportation, and temporary housing. Stay informed about available resources and support services in your area.
Having a list of important emergency numbers readily available is crucial during a natural disaster or any emergency situation. Ensure that all family members are aware of the following numbers, and consider keeping a printed copy in your emergency kit. Here’s a list of key emergency numbers:
- Emergency Services – 911 – This universal emergency number can be dialed for immediate assistance from police, fire, medical, and other emergency services.
- Local Emergency Management Agency – Find the contact information for your local emergency management agency, which is responsible for coordinating disaster response and recovery efforts in your area.
- Non-Emergency Police Line – In situations that require police assistance but are not immediate emergencies, having the non-emergency police line for your local law enforcement agency is crucial.
- Fire Department – Save the direct number to your local fire department for non-emergencies or for information about fire safety and prevention.
- Hospital and Medical Facilities – Keep the contact information for the nearest hospital and medical facilities in case of injuries or medical emergencies.
- Poison Control Center – 800-222-1222 (United States)
Reporting Utility Disruptions
Know how to reach your utility providers to report gas leaks, power outages, or water-related emergencies.
- Gas Emergency (gas company)
- Power Outage (electric company)
- Water Emergency (water utility)
Tip: Refer to your monthly service statements or contact your property management company to discover and record these numbers.
Local Weather Information
Tune in to local weather channels or radio stations for up-to-date information on weather conditions and alerts.
Tip: Download a weather app on your mobile device for notifications and alerts.
National Weather Service (NWS)
The NWS provides nationwide weather alerts and forecasts. Be aware of their local contact number for relevant information.
Animal Control – Humane Society
If you have pets or encounter animals in distress, having the number for animal control services is crucial.
The Humane Society of the United States – 866-720-2676
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is a valuable resource during disasters, providing shelter, assistance, and support. Know how to contact your local Red Cross chapter.
American Red Cross Main Phone Number – 800-733-2767
FEMA provides assistance and resources during major disasters. Familiarize yourself with their contact information for guidance and support.
FEMA Helpline – 800-621-3362 (TTY – 800-462-7585) (United States)
Tip: Download and use the FEMA mobile app.
Other Essential Emergency Contacts
Consider researching and documenting the following agencies and providers for your records and future reference:
1. Local Government Offices – Save the numbers for your local government offices, including city hall and county offices, for additional information and assistance.
2. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) – CERT teams are trained community volunteers who assist emergency services during disasters. Know how to contact your local CERT for additional support. Search for a local program or register your group at community.fema.gov/PreparednessCommunity/s/welcome-to-cert?language=en_US
3. Insurance Providers – Keep an updated list of contact numbers for your insurance providers, including:
Note: Major insurance providers will typically deploy emergency response teams to communities suffering significant damages from severe storms.
4. Family and Friends – Keep a printed list of contact numbers for family members and close friends who may not be living with you. Formulate a communication plan in case of separation during an emergency.
5. Neighbors and Local Support – Establish a community network and know the contact information for neighbors or local community groups that can provide support during emergencies.
Note: Local emergency numbers and services may vary. Always follow local guidelines and stay informed about the specific emergency numbers relevant to your region.
How to Get Your Home and Roof Repaired
After a severe weather event, it is crucial to act quickly to assess damages, file claims, and have repairs or replacements made (claims are expedited first-come-first-served). Consider the following:
1. Document Damages – Take photographs and videos of all tornado-related damages to your home, both interior and exterior. This documentation will be crucial when filing insurance claims and working with contractors.
Tip: Schedule free home and roof inspections and evaluations to obtain professional reports on your home’s sustained damages. Schedule your roof inspection now. Visit newimageroofingatlanta.com/roofing-services/roof-maintenance/roof-inspections
2. Contact Your Insurance Provider – Notify your insurance company as soon as possible after the tornado. Provide them with a detailed description of the damages and the documentation you have collected. Begin the claims process promptly.
3. Choose Reputable Contractors – Choose experienced and reputable contractors for repairs. Request and Obtain multiple quotes, check references, and verify credentials before making any decision. Ensure the contractors are licensed, bonded, and insured.
4. Coordinate with Insurance Adjuster – Work closely with your insurance adjuster and contractors during the inspection process. Ensure that all damages are thoroughly assessed and included in the insurance claim.
5. Timely Repairs – Once your insurance claim is approved, schedule repairs promptly. Address structural issues, roof damage, water and mold remediation, and any other necessary repairs or services to restore your home to its pre-tornado condition.
In this article, you discovered crucial information about tornado preparedness, roof and home damages caused by tornadoes, emergency services available post-tornado, and steps to getting your home, roof, and life put back together.
Taking time to assemble the things and plans you need during a natural disaster minimizes the chaos experienced after such events.
Failure to prepare for an eventual tornado or severe weather event will leave you physically, emotionally, and financially vulnerable in the catastrophic aftermath.
Atlanta, GA 30318