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Severe Weather and Natural Disaster
Tornadoes

The Basics In-Depth Experiments Witness Account
Words to Know Experts Say Be Ready! See a Tornado

Be Ready!

If a tornado warning is issued for your area, the likelihood of a tornado is very real. Advances in technology have let meteorologists at the National Weather Service forecast when disasters may strike with more and more precision. But knowing that a disaster is coming is not enough. Having a plan actually makes you feel safer — knowing what to do in an emergency means that you are prepared for a disaster and will be able to help yourself and others to be safe.

If you're home

  • If you have a basement, go there and seek shelter under sturdy furniture.
  • If you don't have a basement, take cover in the center part of your house on the lowest floor. The best options are a small room, or else under sturdy furniture.
  • Don't open the windows; it takes to much time and allows strong winds to enter your building.
  • Try to stay away from windows and just take cover.

If you're in school, a shopping center, or another public place

  • Move to the pre-designated shelter areas.
  • If you don't know where that is, move to a center hallway on the lowest floor.
  • If you think that the building you're in is old or unsafe, move quickly to a nearby newer building, or else take cover outside on low, protected ground.
  • Be sure to stay out of auditoriums, gymnasiums, and other structures with wide free-span roofs — these offer little protection since wide roofs can fall in during tornadoes.

If you're in open country

  • Move away from the tornado's path at right angles.
  • If there isn't time to get out of the way, lie down flat in the nearest ditch or ravine.

If you're in a car

  • Don't try to outrun a tornado.
  • If possible, take shelter in a sturdy structure.
  • Otherwise, get out of the car and move to the nearest ditch or depression until the tornado passes.