Tornadoes are one of nature’s most violent storms that can happen within a matter of minutes. They develop so quickly that there is little to no advanced warning before one hits. A tornado normally forms after a thunderstorm when the air becomes very still. Then, in an instant, a tornado can hit. Before A Tornado As the chances of tornadic activity increase this time of year, here are some tips to ensure you and your family are safe and prepared! First, you will want to create a plan of action for your family. Some topics to cover with your family include: the best place to take shelter in your home, the county you live in, and the difference between a “watch” and “warning.” Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and listen to the radio for updated information. Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately. Then, as you should for all emergencies, put together an emergency kit. Be sure to include a radio with extra batteries, as you’ll want to be able to listen to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or your local weather station to get up-to-date information. Be alert of the weather conditions and any storms that could be approaching. Potential signs that a tornado may be developing include: dark or greenish skies, hail, a loud roar (similar to a freight train), or low-lying clouds with a rotation. During A Tornado If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately. If you’re in your home or a small building, find an area such as a basement, storm cellar, or the most interior room on the lowest level. If the room/area has a sturdy object, such as a pool table or workbench, crawl under it to protect yourself from falling objects. You want to put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Do not go near or open any windows or doors. If you are in a high-rise building, get to the lowest level as quickly as possible. If you are outside and nowhere near a sturdy building, lie in an area that is noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head. If you are driving during a tornado warning, drive away from the tornado at a 90-degree angle (tornados usually travel west to eat). If you are near a bridge or an overpass, do not take shelter under it. Getting to a low, flat location will be the safest option – this is the best for if you are in your car or outside with no shelter nearby. If you live in an apartment complex or dormitory, find the safest and lowest place possible in the building. Don’t forget that you want to find the most interior room with no windows. When going to the lowest level, use the stairs and avoid using the elevator. After a Tornado If a tornado has hit your neighborhood, be careful getting out of your home or location that you took shelter in. First, check yourself for injuries and make sure you have on proper safety gear (sturdy shoes, eye protection, gloves, etc.) before exiting. There is a chance that there are dangerous objects such as glass lying around or exposed nails from structure damage. Do not touch any electrical wires or objects in water puddles, as the objects could be connected to live electrical wires. If your home was affected by the tornado, take notes and photos of the damage or broken items as your insurance company need them.