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Tornadoes

ALWAYS CALL 911 if you are in immediate danger and need emergency help.

Tornadoes can strike with little or no warning. If you live in an area where tornadoes occur, prepare ahead of time. If you are under a tornado WARNING, seek shelter immediately!

Prepare for a tornado

Drinking water:

For water and wastewater facilities:

Suggested activities to help facilities prepare. Please note, the linked information is written for hurricane preparedness but much of it will still apply to tornado preparedness activities.

Chemical, fertilizer, or hazardous waste storage:

Properly designed or modified storage facilities enhance worker safety and minimize the risk of contamination or spills into the environment. Read more about:
Requirements for Pesticide Storage
Hazardous Waste Management Facilities and Units

Planning for disaster debris:

Communities should plan ahead to handle exceptionally large amounts of disaster debris from damaged or destroyed buildings, supplies, trees or other green waste, carcasses, or other materials.

Disposal problems can result from types or amounts of debris but also from hazardous or toxic substances in the debris that can contaminate air, water, land, and food if not handled properly. Read more about disaster debris planning.

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Recover after a tornado

People get sick or die each year from carbon monoxide or "CO" poisoning due to unsafe use of generators.

Drinking water:

For water and wastewater facilities:

Suggested activities to help facilities recover from severe weather conditions. The linked information is written for hurricane recovery but most of it will apply to tornado recovery also.

Pesticides, chemical and oil spills, hazardous waste:

  • Call the National Response Center 1-800-424-8802 (24 hours a day every day). For those without 800 access, call 202-267-2675.
  • Industries and businesses that encounter spills or discharges in the aftermath should contact the National Response Center immediately. You or your organization may have legal requirements for reporting, cleanup, or for taking other actions, depending on the specific circumstances.
  • National Pesticide Information Center: 1-800-858-7378. Pesticide contacts
  • How to report spills and possible violations

Disaster debris:

How a community manages massive amounts of disaster debris depends on the debris and any waste management options available. Burying or burning may not be acceptable unless permission or a waiver has been granted, because of the side effects of smoke and fire from burning, and potential water and soil contamination. Typical methods of recycling and solid waste disposal in sanitary landfills often cannot be applied to disaster debris because of the large volume of waste and reluctance to overburden existing disposal capacity. More information on disaster debris.

Renovation and rebuilding

Lead-safe work: By law, contractors need to use lead-safe work practices on emergency renovations on homes or buildings built before 1978. Activities such as sanding, cutting, and demolition can create lead-based paint hazards. Lead-contaminated dust is harmful to adults, particularly pregnant women, and children.

  • Important information about lead-safe clean-up and renovation

Asbestos: Anyone working on demolition, removal, and cleanup of building debris needs be aware of any asbestos and to handle asbestos materials properly. People exposed to asbestos dust can develop serious lung health problems including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Although the use of asbestos has dramatically decreased in recent years, it is still found in many residential and commercial buildings and can pose a serious health risk.

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