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Safety depends on planning

Published: March 27, 2011
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The key to tornado survival is a safety plan. Your plan at home should be known by everyone in the home and practiced at least twice each year. Children who may be at home alone should know what to do and where to go.

Shelter goals

Your goals in selecting a shelter should be:

Get as low as possible — completely underground is best.

Put as many barriers between you and the outside as possible.

It is not the wind inside and around a tornado that kills and injures — it's the flying debris.

Storm cellars and basements

If the entrance to a storm cellar is outside, you should allow time to get there before the storm arrives.

A basement is also a good shelter in most cases. If your basement is not totally underground, or has outside doors or windows, stay as far away from them as possible. Items from above could fall into the basement, so it's a good idea to get under a stairwell or a piece of sturdy furniture.

If possible, avoid seeking shelter underneath heavy objects on the floor above. Use coverings (pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, coats, etc.) and helmets to shield your head and body and to protect yourself from flying debris.

Safe rooms

A reinforced safe room (or aboveground tornado shelter) is as good as an underground shelter in most situations. Safe rooms are specially designed reinforced tornado shelters built into homes, schools and other buildings.

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