When a tornado is coming, you have precious little time to act. Here’s what you can do to get ready before a twister touches down, and what to do during an actual tornado:
Conduct tornado drills each tornado season. Designate an area in your home where all family members will take shelter, preferably in the center of the house and below ground.
Have disaster supplies on hand. Stock up on canned goods and other no-cook food, a manual can opener, candles, a flashlight, batteries, water, and an NOAA-approved weather radio to tune into severe weather alerts. Remember to also keep pet food handy for your dogs and cats.
Develop an emergency communications plan. Make sure friends and family have all your cell phone numbers in case your home phone goes out. Designate an out-of-state friend or relative that each family member has to call to report their whereabouts in case everyone is not at home.
If at home: Go at once to your designated shelter, usually a basement, storm cellar, or the lowest level of your house. If you don’t have a basement, go to an inner hallway or smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture and hold on to it. If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.
If at work or school: Go to the basement or an inside hallway at the lowest level. Avoid spaces with wide-span roofs like auditoriums, cafeterias, or large hallways. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture and hold on to it.
If outdoors: If possible, get inside the nearest building. If you can’t gain access, lie in a ditch or other low-lying area, or crouch near the building. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
If in a car: Never try to outdrive a tornado in a car or truck. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can lift a vehicle in the air. Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building, or lie in a ditch. Be aware of the potential for flooding.