Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears.
Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival. Be prepared to act quickly. There are no tornado sirens in Fairfax County.
- Go immediately to the lowest level of your building to an interior room or hallway.
- Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
- Stay away from windows and doorways.
- Do not stay in a trailer or mobile home. Go immediately to a building with a strong foundation.
- If you're in a car or if shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under a bridge or overpass.
- Plan to stay in your shelter location until the danger has passed.
If in a structure (e.g. residence or building):
Go to a pre-designated
shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar,
or the lowest building level.
- If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.
- Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
- Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Do not open windows.
If in a trailer or mobile home:
- Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
If outside with no shelter:
- Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
- If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
A tornado watch means current weather conditions may result in a tornado.
A tornado warning means a tornado has been sightedor indicated by weather radar; take shelter immediately.
Be aware that the majority of tornadoes occur between 3 and 9 p.m. Think of where you would normally be during that time – at school, at work or in the car. The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph. Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
- Floodplain Information
- Flood Protection (insurance and dams)
- Hazards: Flooding
- Hazards: Hurricane
- Hazards: Hurricane & Tropical Storm Terminology
- Hazards: Thunderstorm
- Roads that Historically Flood
- Storm drainage system
- Tornado Sirens
- Tornadoes (Ready.gov)
- Tornado Safety Checklist (American Red Cross)
- Tornadoes (VDEM)