Tornadoes are violent, dangerous windstorms that typically form a funnel-shape but can take on many shapes and sizes. They’re usually spawned by thunderstorms and usually occur between March and August in Minnesota, although they can occur at any time of year.
Steps you can take
1. Make a Family Emergency Plan
Know where you can find shelter. If you are indoors, go to a room with no windows on the lowest floor (i.e., storm cellar, basement, interior room or hallway) and get under a sturdy table or stairwell and protect your head and neck.
If you are outdoors or in a car, go inside a building, if possible. If building shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. Do not go under an overpass or bridge.
Establish a meeting place for your family if you are not able to go home. Identify an emergency contact that lives out of town. Know their phone number.
2. Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit
Include items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, first aid supplies, extra flashlights and batteries. Store it in your shelter location.
3. Find out about emergency plans at your family’s work, daycare and school
Find out what room they will be taken to if a tornado is imminent and where they will be taken if there are injuries once the tornado is over.
4. Learn basic first aid and CPR
Watches and warnings
A tornado watch means the current weather conditions can cause a tornado to develop in your area. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted or is strongly indicated on radar in your area. A three-minute steady siren will be sounded. When you hear the siren, take shelter immediately and listen for emergency information on your radio or television. Find out more about warning sirens.
Sirens are tested the first Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m.
Dakota County’s role in tornado preparedness
Dakota County partners with local communities and the Dakota Communications Center. The DCC activates outdoor warning sirens when a tornado warning has been issued in your area, tests the sirens each month, distributes information through the Emergency Alert Program notification system and provides 911 assistance.