Tornado Safety: What to do when a twister strikes

Don Schwenneker Image
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

First things first. What is the difference between a watch and a warning? The two words are often confused. A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form.

That means you should be on alert, and have the ABC11 app and/or a NOAA weather radio close by, should a tornado form. A Tornado Warning is serious. That means you need to take cover immediately because a tornado has either been indicated by a radar or has been spotted on the ground.

Once a Tornado Warning is issued by the National Weather Service, it's important to get to a safe spot immediately. Modern day weather technology is able to give decent lead time in most situations, which helps to save your life, if you react immediately.

Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:

Get to the lowest level of your home or building. The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement, or safe room. If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative. Put as many walls as you can between you and the outside of your house.

Mobile homes are NOT safe during tornadoes or other severe winds. Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. You are safer outside in a ditch or low lying area. Get as low as possible and cover your head with your hands.

If you are driving, get to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately, but make sure to drive away from the tornado, not into the path of the tornado. Never try to outrun a tornado.

If flying debris happens while you are driving, pull over and park. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, again covering your head with your hands.