Know the Difference—How to React During a Hailstorm and Tornado

Not all severe weather is alike, which is why your reactions to different storms also shouldn’t be alike. Both hailstorms and tornadoes are damaging in their own way. In order to reduce your risks during each kind of storm, you should react to whether hail or a tornado is present.

Use the following information from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to find out how you should react during a hailstorm and tornado. For additional guidance, please use IBHS hail and tornado resources available at DisasterSafety.org.

During a Hailstorm

In an Automobile

  • Stop driving. If you see a safe place close-by (like inside a garage, under a highway overpass or under a service station awning), drive to it as soon as you can. Make sure you pull completely off the highway.
  • Do NOT leave the vehicle until it stops hailing.
  • Stay away from car windows. Cover your eyes with something, like a piece of clothing. If possible, get onto the floor facedown or lie down on the seat with your back to the windows.
  • Put very small children under you and cover their eyes.

In a Building

  • Stay inside until the hail stops.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Account for all family members, building occupants, pets, etc.
  • Do not go outside for any reason.
  • To avoid the danger of electrocution from lightning, avoid using phones and electrical appliances during a severe storm.

Outside

  • Seek shelter immediately. If you can’t find something to protect your entire body, find something to protect your head.
  • Stay out of culverts and lowland areas that may suddenly fill with water.
  • Seeking shelter under trees should be a last resort. It is common during severe storms for trees to lose branches.

 

During a Tornado

In a Building

  • Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a small 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.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Put on sturdy shoes.
  • Do not open windows.

In a Manufactured Home or Office

  • Get out immediately and go to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.

Outside

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
  • Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • 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.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.