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    Tractor Supply Company

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    Developing a Tornado Preparedness Plan

    Tornadoes spawn from severe thunderstorms when conditions are just right. If winds reach heights that can support the rotation of a tornado, you may see a funnel cloud or full-on twister hit the ground – and the damage to follow can be devastating. These storms are known to pick up and throw around all sorts of items and debris, from dust and mud to livestock and cars. In the United States, tornadoes are most common in the Midwest, Central Plains and Southeast, but all 50 states have a documented history of tornadoes.

    If you’re wondering how to prepare for a tornado, Tractor Supply is here to help. As America’s largest rural lifestyle retailer with over 85 years of experience, Tractor Supply has seen countless tornadoes and offers storm preparedness supplies and advice. Learn more about tornado safety with this tornado preparedness checklist from Tractor Supply. 

    Steps to Take Before the Chance of Tornadoes

    If a tornado watch or warning is issued in your area, you’ll have a matter of hours or minutes to respond. Before the threats of tornado season, prepare your home for severe weather by taking the following steps:

    1. Pack a tornado kit. 

    If a tornado damages your home and you are forced to evacuate, have a tornado kit packed and ready to go with items like:

    • Batteries, flashlights and lanterns
    • Change of clothing for all family members
    • Extra gas cans with fuel
    • Fire extinguisher
    •  First-aid kit and dust masks
    • Medications, vitamins and supplements
    • Non-perishable foods and coolers
    • Personal hygiene products and baby supplies
    • Prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses with solution
    • Pet supplies including leashes, pet carriers, pet food and toys
    • Rain boots for men, women and children
    • Rain gear for men, women and children
    • Sleeping bags
    • Water supply for each person (1 gallon per person per day), including water bottles

    2. Invest in a storm shelter if you don’t have a safe place to hunker down. 

    During a tornado, weather officials always recommend seeking shelter in the lowest, most central area of your home. For many, this might be the basement or a first-story bathroom or closet. If you don’t have an area where you’ll feel safe, strongly consider installing a storm shelter. These structures are designed to withstand impacts from high winds and flying debris. Several storm shelter sizes are available at Tractor Supply, with options that can safeguard anywhere from six to 20 people. You have the option to install your storm shelter indoors or outdoors, depending on your needs and preferences. 

    3. Prepare for extended electricity outages with backup power sources. 

    Tornadoes can knock out electricity and other major utilities for hours, days or even weeks at a time. These backup power sources should be included in any severe weather preparation plan:

    • Batteries and battery chargers: Stock up on disposable batteries, and make sure you have the right battery chargers to power up your tools and devices before a storm. 
    • Fire starters and heating fuel: From matches and lighters to lighter fluids and other heat sources, be prepared to use supplemental lighting and heating sources.
    • Flashlights and lanterns: Ensure these items are fully charged or have fresh disposable batteries in them. They should always be stored in various easy-to-find locations around your home.  
    • Generators: Have a generator for your home, barn and other important structures on your property. Generators provide reliable backup power for extended periods to keep your devices working and help you maintain normalcy. Tractor Supply can help you find the best generator for your needs, with a selection including:
    • Propane: During a power outage, your grill might become your only means of cooking meals for your family. Ensure you have enough propane on hand to cook for several days. Propane can also power other vital tools and systems during a power outage. 

    4. Inspect your home for damage and address problem areas.

    An unexpected tornado can make seemingly small issues a much larger headache. To give your home the best chance of weathering the storm, make preparations ahead of time, such as:

    • Address foundation and structural issues: If you notice cracks in the walls or ceiling, uneven floors and other signs of structural distress, consult with the appropriate professional to remedy these problems before tornado season. 
    • Clean gutters: Ensure all gutters are clear and all downspouts are functioning properly. This can help prevent water buildup and the moisture damage that might accompany it.
    • Fix indoor and outdoor drainage problems: Because tornadoes form during severe thunderstorms, heavy rainfall is also a threat. Ensure all drainage issues are addressed to prevent water backup in your home or around your yard. 
    • Inspect and repair the roof: Check for issues like inadequate horizontal/vertical truss bracing or loose shingles. Even minor issues can become hugely problematic during a tornado and result in major roof damage, as well as water entering the home. Ensure plywood sheathing is correctly attached with nails (not staples), and consider more durable soffit materials than thin vinyl or aluminum. If wind enters the attic, the home can experience structural failure.
    • Trim surrounding trees: If there are any trees with branches or limbs threatening your roof, be sure to trim those routinely throughout the year. If tornadoes are in the imminent forecast, hold off on cutting limbs and branches, as these can become dangerous projectiles during a storm. 
    • Reinforce garage doors: Use L brackets and reinforced braces to secure garage doors and keep them closed during high winds. Aged garage doors and tracks should be replaced with ones meeting current impact codes. 
    • Secure windows and doors: Make sure your windows have year-round protection in the form of storm shutters or plywood boards. You can also consider upgrading to impact-rated windows and doors, which are designed to resist pressure. All door and window components should be in working condition, and you should be able to lock them without issue. If you have sliding glass doors, consider installing tempered glass if you haven’t done so already. 

    You won’t have time to worry about these tasks in the minutes before a tornado approaches, and it’s not safe to do so during severe weather, either. If you’re able, it’s also highly recommended to have a licensed building inspector regularly check your home for problems. 

    5. Address potential hazards inside your home. 

    Because a tornado can cause instant damage to your home, make sure there are as few hazards indoors as possible. For instance, make sure heavy pieces of furniture are away from windows, large picture frames or mirrors to prevent damage and injury from broken glass. You should also ensure that all toxic chemicals and solutions are properly stored and sealed – this is to prevent pets or children from consuming them or even keeping poison from seeping into local waterways. If heavy or breakable items are on display, consider taking them down until the conditions improve. 

    6. Be ready for potential tornado cleanup.

    Whether you find yourself directly in a storm’s path or flying debris causes minor damage, Tractor Supply is here to help you clean up after experiencing a tornado. Some tools you might need include:

    • Chainsaws
    • Mold-removers
    • Mops
    • Multi-tools
    • Trash cans
    • Water pumps
    • Wet-dry vacuums

    7. Think through how a tornado would impact your family and put a response plan in writing.

    During any emergency, it can be difficult to think clearly and rationally about how to respond. That’s why you should be prepared for a tornado by thinking all of the details through in advance, such as:

    • Emergency contacts and communication methods: Establish emergency contacts and ensure every member of the family has their contact information. If cell phone service or Wi-Fi is affected, determine how you’ll communicate with loved ones via landline phones or other means. 
    • Safe places to seek shelter: Know where you’ll take shelter at home, school or work, and practice tornado drills regularly with your family or others you encounter daily. If you live in a mobile home, you should not shelter inside it during a tornado. Likewise, if you are driving during a tornado, it’s advised to go inside the nearest building or shelter. If you are not near any buildings, pull over, exit your vehicle and seek cover in a ditch, ravine or another low-lying area. If you stay inside your vehicle, crouch down and cover your head. 
    • Shutting off utilities: During a weather emergency, everyone in your household should know how to shut off the home’s utilities, including electricity, water and gas. If you see flooding or downed power lines, this is a sign to turn off utilities at their main switch or valve. 
    • Where to store important documents and valuables: From birth certificates and passports to priceless family photos and jewelry, there are many sensitive documents and valuables to protect from a tornado. Consider weather-resistant safes or gun safes depending on your needs. 

    What to Do During a Tornado Watch

    When weather officials issue a tornado watch, it means that the risk of severe thunderstorms in your area is high, and these storms might produce tornadoes. Before those dark clouds roll in, use straps, tarps and related items to cover and anchor down any vulnerable belongings in your yard, like a boat on a trailer or machinery. If you have a garage or carport, pull your vehicles inside to avoid damage from flying debris. Bring inside potters, patio furniture and any other items that could become dangerous if picked up by a tornado. Inside the home, place loose items into cabinets, closets or drawers, and make sure large furnishings and appliances are secured in place. 

    During a tornado watch, watch television broadcasts, sign up for mobile alerts or tune into emergency stations on your radio for the latest information. Keep pets indoors, and safeguard outdoor animals in barns, coops or pens. Know where your disaster kit is located, and gather all valuable items that you wouldn’t want to be affected by storm damage. Then, all you can do is wait and see if you’ll be affected – and be ready to act at a moment’s notice if a tornado warning is issued. 

    Watch the Sky for Tornado Signs 

    You and your loved ones should be able to recognize the signs of a tornado, which are:

    • Cloud of debris approaching you
    • Dark, low-lying and large cloud
    • Funnel cloud that is rotating either in the air or on the ground
    • Large hail
    • Sky that is dark or greenish 
    • Very loud roaring sound similar to a freight train

    Reacting During a Tornado Warning

    If a tornado warning is issued, this means that a tornado has been sighted on the ground or indicated by radar technology in your area. Upon receiving the warning, follow these tornado safety tips:

    • Close all of the windows of your home, as it is a myth that keeping windows open will equalize pressure during a storm. 
    • Take cover immediately in your pre-determined shelter location with your emergency kit. 
    • Use pillows and blankets to protect your head. 
    • Do not emerge from your shelter until the storm has completely passed or local authorities have cleared you to do so. 

    Get the Tornado Supplies You Need at Tractor Supply

    Prepare for tornado season with the assistance of Tractor Supply. For more tornado safety tips or to pick up the supplies you need, shop our inventory online or visit your local Tractor Supply store.

    Please note: This information is general and is not intended to replace or override any of the advice, warnings, or information given by local officials, FEMA, NOAA or any other official regulatory organization or government branch regarding storm safety in the form of thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail storms, floods or any other natural disaster or man-made disaster. Always follow take-cover recommendations, evacuation orders and any other advice given by local officials for your area, regardless of whether it is similar to or different from the information on TractorSupply.com.