IN HOMES OR SMALL BUILDINGS: Go to the basement (if available) or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom. Upper floors are unsafe. If there is no time to descend, go to a closet, a small room with strong walls, or an inside hallway. Wrap yourself in overcoats or blankets to protect yourself from flying debris.
IN SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, FACTORIES, OR SHOPPING CENTERS: Go to interior rooms and halls on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums and warehouses. Crouch down and cover your head. Don't take shelter in halls that open to the south or the west. Centrally-located stairwells are good shelter.
IN HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS: Go to interior small rooms or halls. Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas.
IN MOBILE HOMES: ABANDON THEM IMMEDIATELY! Most deaths occur in cars and mobile homes. If you are in either of those locations, leave them and go to a substantial structure or designated tornado shelter.
IN VEHICLES: IF POSSIBLE, DRIVE AWAY! If not, get into a sturdy shelter (building). As a last resort, you need to make a personal decision whether to ride it out in your car hunched down below the windows with your SEATBELT ON, or to lie flat in the nearest ditch or depression with your hands covering your head.
IF NO SUITABLE STRUCTURE IS NEARBY: Lie flat in the nearest ditch or depression and use your hands to cover your head, or remain in your vehicle with your seat belt fastened, crouching down below the window. These options should be considered last resorts.
DURING A TORNADO: Absolutely avoid buildings with large free-span roofs. Stay away from west and south walls. Remember, seek shelter on the lowest level, go to the smallest room, and center part of the building.
No matter where you are, do some advance planning if possible. Identify protective areas you can get to in a hurry. Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio that will provide an alarm if a tornado watch or warning is in effect for your county. The key to tornado survival is to be prepared and to take immediate action when a warning is issued or when you spot a tornado. Remember, the actions you take during a tornado may save your life and the lives of your family.
You can also find additional safety information in the NOAA brochure "Tornadoes, Thunderstorms and Lightning", available on-line from the National Weather Service.
Kansas and Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week