Things to know: Tornado safety tips

by: John Ahrens Updated:

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CHARLOTTE —

A tornado can strike with little warning. It is important to plan ahead in case of severe weather.

Click here to read six common myths about tornadoes.

Learn the tornado warning signals used in your community. The most common warning is a siren, which means you should stay inside and take cover immediately. You can also sign up for WSOC-TV weather alerts, which would alert you in case of severe weather.

If warning signals are not available, look for these signs of danger: dark, greenish skies, large hail, dark, rotating, low-altitude cloud, or loud roar, like a train.

Prepare for severe weather by creating a disaster emergency kit and conducting family tornado drills in your home. Make sure each family member knows the tornado safety procedures for their workplace or school.

It is important to know the difference between a watch and a warning. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. In this case, be alert to changes in the weather. Have your emergency kit ready, account for all family members, and keep a battery-powered radio tuned to weather reports. Move cars inside. If time permits, move lawn furniture and equipment inside to minimize flying debris.

Click here to learn more about weather alert radios.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted. It a tornado warning is used for your area, seek shelter immediately.

The safest place to go during a tornado is underground. If you are home, seek shelter under something sturdy like a workbench. If no basement is available, go to a small interior room on the lower level of your house. Keep all windows shut.

If you live in a mobile home, seek shelter elsewhere at the first sign of severe weather. Go to a prearranged community shelter or make plans to stay with a friend or relative. As a last resort, go outside and lie flat on the ground with your hands over your head and neck. Be alert for flash floods, which often accompany severe storms.

Do not try to outrun a tornado if you are in your vehicle. Tornadoes can toss cars and large trucks like toys. If you see a funnel cloud or hear a tornado warning, get out of your vehicle and seek shelter in the nearest sturdy, enclosed building. If such a shelter is not available, lie down in a low area with your hands covering your neck and head; be alert for flash floods.

Learn emergency plans for office buildings and schools. If a specific shelter area does not exist, move into interior hallways or small rooms on the building’s lowest level. Avoid areas with glass windows and doors, as well as wide-span roofs.

If in a store or shopping mall, go to a designated shelter area or to the center of the building on a low level. Stay away from large, open rooms and windows. Do not seek shelter in parked cars.

For severe weather updates, follow WSOC Weather on Twitter and like the WSOC-TV Weather Facebook page.