The critical first step in surviving a tornado? Listen for tornado watches and warnings.
A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado.
A tornado warning means there is immediate danger of a tornado.
Local radio and television stations and outdoor warning sirens alert us to tornadoes. But the best way to hear tornado warnings in your home is with a weather radio. This device picks up around-the-clock broadcasts from the National Weather Service and sounds a loud alarm with a tornado warning.
Practice being prepared. Pick out a safe place in your home and make sure all family members, especially children, know to go there for a tornado warning. Hold tornado drills so everyone remembers what to do. Stress the importance of staying calm.
Follow these steps to survive a tornado:
- If you live in a house: The safest place in your home is the lowest level the basement, if you have one. If not, choose a small room away from windows a closet, hallway or bathroom. Stay near the center of the house. Put as many walls as possible between you and a tornado. Close all doors. If your safest room is a first-floor bathroom, get in the tub and hold a mattress or cushions over your head for protection.
- If you live in a mobile home: If you hear a tornado warning, leave your home immediately and go to a nearby shelter or the basement of a building. If you don’t have time to reach a shelter, lie flat in a ditch, culvert or other low area and cover your head. Never try to flee a tornado in a vehicle.
- If you get caught outdoors: Hurry to the basement of a sturdy building. Or lie flat in a ditch, culvert or other low area. Cover your head. Do not stay in a vehicle during a tornado.