If you live in the "Tornado Alley" region, you're used to hearing the sirens tested on the first Wednesday of every month. You understand that the sirens are designed to warn of potential tornado activity, but simply being aware of the potential for a tornado isn't sufficient. Unfortunately, many people don't develop the necessary safety precautions should the siren's call ever serve as more than a test.
Because tornadoes travel very quickly and can change direction at any time, following safety precautions after the siren sounds might be too late. Early preparation is essential. To raise awareness and help keep everyone safe in the event of a real, fast-approaching tornado, follow these common practices.
For starters, everyone should understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means no tornado has been sighted yet, but the conditions are right for a tornado to appear. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted and citizens need to get to safety.
If a tornado watch has been issued, stay indoors and follow the weather through media channels. You can also look out the window. If the sky has turned dark and greenish in color and there are low-lying, dark clouds, strong winds, or large hail, then severe weather is coming to the area.
Once a tornado warning has been confirmed, proper safety precautions depend on your location, but in general, move everyone in the family to a designated safe area.
Under no circumstances should a person try to outrun a tornado on foot or by vehicle. The safest choice is always to abandon the vehicle and find shelter or low ground immediately.
To stay as safe as possible if a tornado does visit your area, we hope these best practices will protect you, your family, and the people around you.