Tornadoes Preparing Your Home

6+ Tips for Taking Shelter from a Tornado in an Apartment

Tornado season is known as the period between March and June when tornados are most likely. While some have access to tornado shelters or basements, that’s undoubtedly not always the case.

We’ll look at some tips on taking shelter from a tornado in an apartment so that you’re never caught off guard.

Can tornadoes destroy apartment buildings?


Tornadoes can just about destroy anything. Apartment buildings are huge targets because they extend into the sky. So, even if the tornado never touches the ground, it can still destroy high-rising structures.

How to take shelter from a tornado in an apartment?

You can’t do much about living in an apartment during a weather event, but you can do your best to get to safety.

Go down toward the ground.

The safest place is down, regardless of where you are during a tornado. Sometimes an apartment complex has a basement or a covered, protected parking lot, which is wonderful.

But, if they don’t, go to the lowest level of the building, like a neighbor’s ground-floor apartment. 

Interior stairwells aren’t ideal, but you can use them to get to the lowest level of the floors and use the stairs to hide away from the tornado.

Get away from the windows.

You don’t always have the time to get to the lowest level of your apartment building. The next safest spot is as far away from windows as possible. 

You must always shelter in place even if you feel the tornado has passed and wait for the go-ahead from the National Weather Service and emergency personnel.

Why is the bathroom the safest place in a tornado?

Bathrooms work as a safe place during a tornado because the they tend to have small or no windows and are framed around a small space. Interior rooms, closets, or hallways are also usable spaces to take shelter during an emergency.

Get away from heavy objects.

Furniture can become a weapon during a tornado. While it may seem safe to hide under a bed or couch, it will turn into a dangerous object during a twister. Or, they can fall through a weakening floor or pin you in place.

How do you survive a tornado in a highrise?

  1. Get to the lowest floor possible.
  2. Get to an enclosed and windowless spot in the center of your apartment building, including interior stairwells.
  3. Crouch and cover your head.

Protect your body.

Whether in the basement, stairway, or bathroom, the priority is to protect your body as best as possible. It means covering your head and neck with your arms. 

You can shield your body from debris and wind using thick blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, and mattresses. If you have a bicycle helmet, grab it and put it on. It will protect your head from falling and flying debris.

The aftermath of a natural disaster can be as dangerous. You will need to protect your lungs using a mask or protective face covering. 

Know when a tornado is coming.

Tornado Shelter

Tornadoes don’t come with many warnings, meaning you have to stay on top of weather alerts through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). But there are other signs to be on the lookout for, too.

  • Intense and persistent cloud base rotation
  • Dust and debris twisting on the ground. A twister doesn’t always form a funnel cloud.
  • Hail and heavy rain followed by a weird calmness can signal a tornado. 
  • Roar and rumble that doesn’t fade like thunder may be an incoming tornado.
  • The darkness of night makes tornadoes ten times scarier. If you see small bright blue-green or white lights near a thunderstorm, power lines are snapping against strong winds.

Be as prepared as you can.

At-home emergency drills are a great way to prepare you and your family for any emergency, especially a tornado. And having an emergency kit means you are ready in the case of a delayed emergency response.

At a glance

How do people in a tornado shelter without a basement?

  1. Know when bad weather is coming and be on the lookout for warning signs of a twister.
  2. Go to the lowest space of the structure. (basement, floor-level)
  3. Stay away from windows. (bathrooms, stairwells, hallways)
  4. Avoid heavy objects during a tornado. 
  5. Protect your body with what you have handy. (mattresses, pillows, bike helmets)

By AlwaysReadyHQ Team

Pinterest // Email

Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

The AlwaysReadyHQ Team is made up of writers and editors with experience ranging from emergency paramedics to former FEMA policy writers to natural disaster reporters.

Our goal is to provide clear, concise, organized, realistic, and actionable information to help you and your family feel comfortable and ready for anything. Less scared and more prepared.

We only source from authoritative sources such as government agencies and industry associations to bring reliable information to directly to you.

Andrew Riley - Contributing Editor

Andrew grew up in a country known for earthquakes, volcanoes, and typhoons. But despite the chaos and destruction of natural disasters, he remembers the resilience and readiness of neighbors, despite a lack of official government aid. He hopes that his team of experienced writers bring a bit of that to all of AlwaysReadyHQ's readers.