The best defense against tornadoes is making preparedness a priority. Severe storms and tornadoes can approach quickly, and there may be only a short amount of time to make life-or-death decisions. Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving.
There are basic steps everyone can take to prepare for and to survive severe storms and tornadoes:
Assemble an emergency kit that should include:
Flashlight and extra batteries;
Portable, battery-operated radio or weather radio, and extra batteries;
First aid kit;
Emergency food and water;
Non-electric can opener;
Cash and credit cards;
Bedding or a sleeping bag; and
Sturdy shoes and a change of clothes.
Create a family communication plan, so that if your family is not together when a tornado strikes, you'll have contact numbers to keep in touch. Sometimes calling an out-of-state relative as a main point of contact is a good idea, since phone lines may be down. Also, families at home need to "shelter in place" during a tornado. Plan to meet family members in the lowest part of the home, preferably a basement or safe room. If there is no basement, choose an interior room where there are few or no windows.
Learn these tornado danger signs:
An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible;
Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still; and
Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
When a tornado is sighted, the most important rule is to get low and stay low.
At home-Seek shelter in a basement; storm shelter or safe room; interior room on the lowest floor of the home, such as a bathroom; or a closet or room without windows.
At work-Go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
In a mobile home-Leave your mobile home and take shelter in a nearby building. If no building is nearby, lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
In an automobile-Leave the car and lie flat in a ditch or a ravine. If a building is nearby, take shelter inside.
Never try to outrun a tornado in your car.
At school-Follow plans and go to a designated shelter area, usually interior hallways on the lowest floor. Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias, or gyms and areas with wide, free-span roofs.
At a shopping center-Go to the interior rooms and halls on the lowest floor of a shopping center. Do not leave the shopping center to get in your car.
Outside in the open-Take cover on low, protected ground.
How to improvise a survival shelter in less than ten minutes.
Source: FEMA - FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.