Where should you take shelter during a tornado?

If you're driving or if you're in an apartment, a mobile home or a house without a basement, you should know where you'll be safest.

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 5:40 p.m.

Depending on where you are when a tornado strikes, where you go and what you do could make a big difference. Here's advice for the safest places to be for those who live in multi-story buildings, mobile homes, homes without basements or if you're driving during a tornado. 

Apartments, high rises, dorms

If you live in any kind of multi-story complex, go to the lowest level and most interior part of the building. Avoid elevators and stay away from windows.

What should I do if I live in a mobile home?

The safest manufactured home is one that's anchored to a concrete foundation

In preparation for a tornado there are steps you can take to anchor your mobile home

If your mobile home is on private property, you can build an underground storm shelter

Some parks do have community shelters that double as laundry rooms, community lounges, or management offices during the day. Check with your property managers to find out if they can be used for shelter.

In the end, it's best to flee if at all possible -- but not at the cost of driving into the storm. If you can't get away, see the tips below for what to do if you're not near a safe structure.

What should I do if I'm driving and there's a tornado?

In the best case scenario, you should find the nearest sturdy structure to take shelter. If you can't do that, seek shelter in a ditch or other natural feature that provides some cover. Lay flat and cover the back of your neck with your hands. Get away from vehicles, as they can easily be picked up and dropped by the tornado.

If you can't do that, remember  that you shouldn't try to outdrive a twister. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can lift a car or truck and toss it through the air.

Where should I go if I don't have a basement?

Studies have shown that when much of a home has been destroyed, often the only surviving part of the dwelling is a small interior room, such as a closet or bathroom. This has to do with more supportive wall framing versus ceiling surface area.

If you don't have a basement, find an interior closet or bathroom and stay away from windows. 

You can also consider adding a safe room to your home. FEMA has a guide for how to build one.

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