CHICAGO (CBS) – The deadly Oklahoma tornado should be motivation to get yourself and your family prepared for a similar weather disaster here, and according to experts, when the sirens start sounding, it’s probably too late to come up with a plan to survive a big twister.
“Tornado sheltering basics involved three steps – get in, get down and cover-up. The overall goal is to avoid flying and falling debris by putting as many barriers between you and the tornado as possible,” according to one expert at the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma.
Your survival depends on where you seek shelter.
“If you’re driving on the road and need to find shelter, or you’re in a shopping mall, a church, a school, where ever you may be, you need to think about those three guidelines of getting in getting down and covering up. Cars are not safe and you need to get in a small room in the middle of the building if you possibly can.”
Underground is the best place to be but if you do not have a basement, weather experts say go to the lowest floor and put as many walls between you and the tornado as you can. Stay away from outside walls, stay away from windows and stay away from outside doors. Take shelter in a bathroom, a closet or a hallway.
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And there’s one place where your chances of survival are near zero.
“Mobile homes are not a safe place to be in a tornado of any strength. If you or your family live in a mobile home, you need to have a plan that will allow you to take shelter in a more substantial building, and to get to that shelter long before the tornado threatens your community. You have to think about plan today, not when the tornado is already on the way.”
Tornadoes often strike with little or no warning and are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time. Nighttime tornadoes are often the deadliest, so make sure you have a weather radio.
“The weather radio offers a warning alarm feature that sounds a siren and flashes a light when weather messages come in. The weather radios are programmable, allowing you to select warnings only that you care about. Most have a battery backup and the siren on most weather radios is going to wake you up in the middle of the night and let you know to go see what’s going on.”
Build an emergency kit and listen to local media. And remember the myths of tornado safety – you don’t have to crack windows in your home to equalize air pressure, never seek shelter under a highway overpass, and tornadoes do hit big cities like Chicago.