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IAFF Tornado Resources

Click here to view an interactive tornado map

The IAFF has set up this Tornado Resource page where you can get information about tornado preparedness and emergency response. Links are available with contact information for your state agencies, as well as federal resources such as the Department of Health, environmental and news sources.


Tornado Safety Checklist. Review this Tornado Safety Checklist from the American Red Cross to prepare for the dangers of a tornado.

Know your community’s tornado alert system. This is critical since tornados often occur suddenly with little or no warning; the best way to be prepared is to understand your local tornado alerts or sirens. Listen to the local authorities via your local radio or television to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
Know how to recognize an approaching tornado by watching for these signs:

  • A dark or green-colored sky.

  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud.

  • Large hail.

  • A loud roar that sounds like a freight train.

The safest place to be in a tornado is an underground shelter, such as a basement. If you do not have a basement, pick a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building as your safe room. Consider having this safe room reinforced following the guidelines provided by FEMA found here.
Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. If you live in a mobile home, make plans in advance to seek shelter in the nearest sturdy building or shelter. Do not wait until you see the tornado to evacuate.

Subscribe to alert services. Local officials have developed systems that will send text messages or emails alerting you to local emergencies or bad weather. Check your local government’s community information page to find ways that you can be alerted for tornado warnings or sign up for local alerts.

Prepare for Power Outages.

Charge Cell Phones and Laptops. Make sure cell phones and laptops are fully charged so they can be used in the event of a power outage.

If power is interrupted, here are some practical tips for dealing with power outages:

Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.

Post a list of contents on your freezer door to minimize the number of times you open it.

Leave one lamp or light on so you will be able to recognize when power is restored.

Frozen food can last up to three days. It is safe to eat if it still has ice crystals at the center.

If using portable or camp-type stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting, ensure that the area is adequately ventilated.


Coping with power outages. This site from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights healthy steps you should take to ensure food, water, and home safety after an extended power outage. Tips on the site address everything from guidelines on what to do with food in your freezer or refrigerator, to water purification procedures, to carbon monoxide poisoning protection.

Safety Precautions After Tornados. This site from the Centers for Disease Control provides safety guidelines that can help you avoid injuries after a tornado. Typically, about 50% of tornado-related injuries occur during rescue attempts, clean up efforts, and other post-tornado activities.

Managing flooding and mold. This site from the Environmental Protection Agency is dedicated to providing information on cleaning up your home or office after a storm that has resulted in flooding, including addressing standing water and wet materials. The site offers basic information on addressing viruses, bacteria, and mold that can occur in the wake of a flood.

Removing fallen branches and trees. The CDC provides tips to help safeguard against injury as a result of removing fallen or partially fallen trees and tree branches, including information on properly using chainsaws in hazardous conditions.

Saving family treasures. These guidelines from The National Archives will walk you through preserving some of your family’s most treasured items that may have been damaged by flood waters. The guidelines range in topics from what do to with wet records, to salvaging family papers, to properly air-drying books, to caring for water damaged heirlooms.

Protect emergency response and cleanup workers

As the disaster recovery operations begins, disaster response workers and members of the public engaged in cleanup activities to be aware of hazards they might encounter and the necessary steps they should take to protect themselves. OSHA maintains a comprehensive website on keeping disaster site workers safe during and after a tornado that outlines the hazards that workers may face when responding to natural disasters. The site includes a response/recovery page which provides information on potential hazards workers may face when responding to tornado-impacted areas, including search and rescue guidelines, generator safety, chain saw safety, and downed electrical wires.


How to Donate to IAFF Disaster Relief Fund

Disaster Relief Assistance Form

Disaster Relief Frequently Asked Questions


South Dakota


DOL/Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Tornado Preparedness and Response

Keeping Workers Safe During Tornado Cleanup and Recovery

Safety and Health Guide to Hurricanes and Tornadoes

Additional Resources

Department of Health and Human Services

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

NIEHS National Clearinghouse. Funded by the NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program and is the primary national source for hazardous waste worker curricula, technical reports, and weekly news.

NIEHS Emergency Preparedness Resources. This webpage provides documents and resources related to emergency preparedness and response.  Documents on this page address issues in government preparedness and public preparedness. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tornado Resource Page.  This page provides safety and preparedness guidelines before, during, and after a tornado. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health and Safety Concerns for All Disasters.  This section is dedicated to post-disaster health and safety issues, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, mold, food storage, power outages, and more.

NIOSH Tornado Cleanup and Response. This CDC-NIOSH website contains links to information about hazards associated with tornado cleanup.

NIOSH Guidance on Person Protective Equipment and Clothing for Storm and Flood Response

Disaster Mental Health Resources. Information regarding mental health issues related to disasters, with specific information for responders, emergency personnel and clinicians

Diseases Transmitted by Foods (A Classification and Summary) Frank L. Bryan, PhD, MPH; Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, Center for Professional Development and Training; Atlanta, Georgia 30333, 1982

Immunization Recommendations for Disaster Responders

Sanitation and Hygiene

Waterborne Diseases

Vibrio vulnificus


Vector-borne Disease Surveillance and Natural Disasters, Roger S. Nasci and Chester G. Moore, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol 4, No 2, April – June 1998


Department of Homeland Security/FEMA


Declared Disasters and Emergencies

National Library of Medicine: Tornado Links to information about preparedness, recovery and environmental health

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration



Field Manual 4-02.10 - Theater Hospitalization, January 2005

Department of Defense 3025.1-M, Manual for Civil Emergencies 1994

Domestic Support Operations FM 100-19, FMFM 7-10

Technical Guidance 273 – Standard Precautions and Isolation Procedures

Flood Hazards and Flood Clean Up Operations Brief for KYARNG Personnel

U.S. Army Public Health Command Heat Illness Prevention

CHPPM: Natural Disaster Resource Materials

FORSCOM Regulation 700-2 Standing Logistics Instructions

Environmental Resources

Emergency Water Supply Resources

Fact Sheet 31-008-1004-Emergency Drinking Water Disinfection Procedures

Fact Sheet 31-009-1004-Choosing an Alternate Water Supply During an Emergency

Chlorine Dosage Calculations and Measurements - from the draft TB MED 577-Chemical dosing instructions (and conversion factors) for different chlorine disinfectants and water volumes


AFPMB Technical Guide No. 24 Contingency Pest Management Guide

AFPMB Technical Guide No. 30 - Filth Flies: Significance, Surveillance and Control in Contingency Operations

AFPMB Technical Guide No. 36, "Personal Protective Measures Against Insects and Other Arthropods of Military Significance"

AFPMP Technical Guide No. 43 - Guide to Pest Surveillance During Contingency Operations

AFPMB Personal Protection Measures (PPM) for Deployments

AFPMB Technical Guidance for Contingencies

AFPMB DOD Standard Pesticides and Pest Control Equipment Lists

DoD Insect Repellent System

Personal Protective Measures (PPMs) Against Insects and Other Arthropods of Military Importance, 15 March 2005


Eastern Equine Encephalitis

DoD pesticide Hotline

Mortuary Information

TG 195 - Guidelines for Protecting Mortuary Affairs Personnel from Potentially Infectious Materials

Cleaning Refrigeration Containers

Psychological Stress Resources

Coping with Stress in Stability and Support Operations

How to Face the Injured and Dead

After a Disaster: Self-Care Tips for Dealing with Stress

Handouts for Adult Survivors of Disasters

Helping Children After a Disasters

Dealing with the Stress of Recovering Human Dead Bodies

Stress and Rescue Operations Performance

Helping Children Cope with a National Tragedy

Crisis Communication

Crisis Communication Checklist

Crisis Communication Fact Sheet Guidelines

Crisis Communication Media Information and Interviewing Tips

Crisis Communication Tips from CDC

Health Risk Communication Resources


American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA)

Incident Preparedness and Response Working Group

Emergency Response Documents

White Paper - "Industrial Hygienists' Role and Responsibilities in Emergency Preparedness and Response

World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO: Environmental Health in Emergencies and Disasters: A Practical Guide - Excerpt on Control of Communicable Diseases and Prevention Epidemics

WHO: Control of communicable diseases and prevention of epidemics

Infection Control Guidelines for Community Shelter and Group Homes - Infection Control Subcommittee of the Manitoba Advisory Committee on Infectious Disease

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

Infectious disease risks from dead bodies following natural disasters

In Natural Disasters, Cadavers Pose No Threat of Disease

The Role of Laboratories and Blood Banks in Disaster Situations

Handling Bodies after Disasters: New Book Offers Guidelines


Red Cross

Salvation Army


CNN Home Page

Google News - Tornadoes



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