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What to do After a Tornado

When you return to a damaged home or business after a tornado, you should take extra precaution to stay safe:

  • Check the foundation, porches, and overhangs for damage. If you find obvious damage, ask that a building inspector check the building first.
  • Enter the building carefully - if a door sticks at the top as it opens, it could mean the ceiling is ready to cave in. Do not walk under a sagging ceiling until a professional checks it.
  • Because of potential gas leaks, do not use any lights, candles, gas lanterns, or torches; use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave the house immediately
    • Do not turn on any appliances or switches (this includes home phones and cell phones).
    • Notify the gas company, the police, fire departments, or state fire marshal’s office.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents, for insurance purposes.

If you survived a disaster, such as a major tornado, you may be eligible for federal assistance. If the President issued a disaster declaration for your county, you can apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For more information, or to apply over the phone, please call 1.800.621.FEMA (1.800.621.3362).

More tips on what to do after a tornado.

Tornado Season Begins Today

Map of the United States showing the frequency of tornadoes in each area

Image from National Severe Storms Laboratory

Peak tornado season in southern states is March through May, but tornadoes can occur in any state at any time of the year.

Get ready for tornadoes and stay safe with these tips from Ready.gov.