What you do when a tornado is approaching can help save lives and reduce injuries. As you prepare a severe weather plan, the Department of Public Safety shares the following tornado safety tips with you. When a tornado approaches and you are:
- In an office building or high rise building: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building — away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
- In a residence hall or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down, and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
- In a theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
- In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
- In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. It used to be advised to drive at right angles to the track of the tornado if tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light. This advice is not recommended because tornadoes do not necessarily travel in straight lines; you cannot always tell the direction from which the storm is coming; the road you turn onto may curve and head into the storm, especially in rural areas; there may be more than one tornado associated with a strong storm system and you may not be able to see it because of reduced visibility due to heavy rain and blown debris. The safest thing to do is park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. (It is safer to get the car out of mud later if necessary than to cause a crash.) Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground not subject to flooding, away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges or overpasses, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
- In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
- In a house with no basement: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress,blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
- In a mobile home: Get out. Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.
For more information on severe weather tips, visit https://stormaware.mo.gov/preparing-for-a-tornado/.