As we Iowans learned last weekend, in the spring and summer months tornadoes can pop up at any time, without much warning, when severe weather conditions are ripe for their formation.
We all must learn to take such life-threatening situations much more seriously, and following these precautions will surely help.
*If at home:
If you have a tornado safe room or engineered shelter, go there immediately. Go at once to a windowless, interior room; storm cellar; basement; or lowest level of the building. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet. Get away from the windows. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it. Use arms to protect head and neck. If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.
*If at school or work:
Go to the area designated in your tornado plan. Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, or shopping malls. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it. Use arms to protect head and neck.
If possible, get inside a building. If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding. Use arms to protect head and neck.
*If in the car:
Never try to out-drive a tornado in a car or truck. Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building. If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
*Watches and warnings:
If a tornado "watch" is issued for your area, it means that a tornado is possible.
If a tornado "warning" is issued, it means that a tornado has actually been spotted, or is strongly indicated on radar, and it is time to go to a safe shelter immediately.