What to do before a severe thunderstorm
When severe weather is on the way, every minute counts. There are quick, last-minute steps you can take—like closing interior doors—to better protect your home from hail, strong winds, and even tornadoes.
Begin Last Minute Prep!
If severe weather is forecast for your area, follow these last-minute steps before the thunder rolls and the wind blows to help reduce damage to your home. Know the difference between a watch and a warning.
Last minute Prep & Recovery Checklist
Quick, last-minute steps you can take and steps to recover quickly.
STAY INFORMED OF CHANGING WEATHER CONDITIONS
1. Set up 3 ways to receive weather alerts.
Severe weather can strike any time—day or night—so it’s important to have multiple ways to receive severe weather alerts even while you are asleep or without power.
- Find a reliable source for severe winter weather information. Follow your local National Weather Service (NWS) office and the NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) on Facebook or X.
- Enable wireless emergency alerts on your cell phone. Check with your wireless service provider’s website to find out how to do this for your specific phone type.
- Have your NOAA weather radio nearby to hear emergency alerts from the National Weather Service even without cell service.
2) Know the difference between a watch and a warning
The National Weather Service issues severe weather watches and warnings ahead of severe storms. Pay attention to these alerts to know when you need to prepare and when you need to take action.
Refresh your knowledge of severe weather terminology:
- A WATCH means be prepared.
- A WARNING means take action now.
WHEN A WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED, TAKE LAST MINUTE STEPS TO PREPARE BEFORE STORMS ARRIVE
3) Activate your severe weather plan and anticipate power outages.
Now is the time to put your severe weather plan into action. By planning ahead, you know what to do now.
- Be sure your severe weather shelter is clear and ready to use. Remember, your shelter should be an interior room with no windows on the lowest floor of your home, such as a basement, bathroom, or closet, or a tornado safe room.
- Keep your phone and devices charged.
- Charge a rechargeable battery pack.
- Keep flashlights, shoes, and a helmet in your severe weather shelter ready, just in case.
4) Gather loose items from your yard.
Outdoor items on the lawn or patio could become flying debris and damage your home.
- Move outdoor items such as patio furniture, toys, planters, grills, and any other loose items in your yard or on your patio into a garage or shed.
- Remember: Stay safe. If you can see lightning or hear thunder, it’s time to go inside.
5) Move your vehicle into the garage and close the garage door.
Vehicles parked outside during a storm can be damaged by hail, particularly hail larger than 1 inch, or by falling trees and flying debris. Leaving a garage door open during a severe thunderstorm leaves your home more vulnerable to structural damage by inviting the wind inside, where pressure can build-up on the roof and walls.
- Move your vehicle into the garage.
- Close the garage door all the way.
6) Close all doors & windows, including interior doors.
Closing doors and windows keeps wind out of your home during a severe thunderstorm or tornado. If a window is broken, air rapidly fills your home, causing a dangerous increase in the forces pushing on the roof. Scientific wind testing at the IBHS Research Center reveals that closing interior doors helps compartmentalize the pressure inside a home into smaller areas, reducing the force on the roof by as much as 30%, and giving your roof a better chance of staying intact.
- Close all exterior windows and doors to keep the wind and rain out.
- Close all interior doors to compartmentalize pressure from the wind if it gets inside your home.
WHEN A TORNADO WARNING IS ISSUED, ACT NOW
7) Get to your shelter or tornado safe room right away.
When a tornado warning is issued, every second counts. You need to take shelter immediately to protect yourself. Because you’ve prepared the space and know where to go, you can seek shelter quickly.
- Take shelter NOW!