In the unfortunate event that you and your loved ones are faced with the threat of a tornado, have these expert instructions in mind.
Before a tornado
Prepare for high winds by removing diseased or damaged limbs from trees.
Secure outdoor fixtures, loose plants and furniture that could become a projectile in a tornado.
During a storm, listen to or watch developing weather reports. Experts recommend NOAA Weather Radio.
Listen for your community’s warning system if one is in place.
Have a safe room picked out where you, loved ones and pets will gather.
The room should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room without windows in the lowest floor of the structure.
What to look for
Look for a wall cloud, an isolated, lowering section at the base of thunderstorm clouds.
A cloud of debris, large hale, a roaring noise and a funnel cloud are indications of a tornado.
Dark or green-colored sky may mean a tornado is approaching.
During a tornado
The safest place to be is in an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
If none are available, take shelter immediately in a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of the structure.
For added protection, get under a sturdy object such as a heavy table. Cover yourself with a blanket or mattress to protect your head.
Avoid taking shelter near heavy objects like pianos or refrigerators on the area of floor that is directly above you in the event they fall through the floor in a tornado.
If you are in a mobile home, abandon the mobile home and go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter.
If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in any nearby sturdy building.
If you cannot get to shelter, get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and drive to a sturdy building.
If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park.
Last resort options are to put your head down below windows, covering your hands with a blanket if possible.
If you can leave the car and get to a nearby noticeably lower level than the roadway, lie in the area and cover your head with your hands. Avoid areas with many trees.
Remember that flying debris causes most tornado deaths, so make yourself a smaller target by crouching down. Always remember to protect your head.
When caught in a public building
Long buildings such as shopping malls and gyms are especially dangerous during a tornado because the roof structure is usually supported solely by the outside walls. Most buildings cannot withstand the enormous pressure and will collapse.
Get to a lower level and away from windows.
If there is no time to get to a lower level, get under a door frame or up against something that will support or deflect falling debris.
For example, if caught in a department store, get against heavy shelving or counters.
In a theater, get under the seats.
Avoid elevators because if power fails, you will be trapped.
After a tornado
Continue listening to weather updates for instructions.
Watch for fallen power lines and broken gas lines. Report them to utility companies immediately.
Stay out of damaged buildings.
Do not use candles when examining buildings. Use a flashlight.
If you smell gas or hear a leak, open a window and get everyone out immediately.
Take pictures of your property damage.
(Information from American Red Cross and Emergency Preparedness and Response at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)