Tornadoes are some of the most terrifying of weather phenomenon. Winds in an F5 tornado -the highest of five rankings - can reach 300 miles per hour and can lift homes off their foundations and send cars flying through the air. Tornadoes are also deadly, killing an average of 42 people in the U.S. each year. The tornadoes that struck Georgia in the early morning of February 14, killed more than a dozen people and left whole neighborhoods destroyed. Spring is a traditionally busy tornado time, although tornadoes can occur in virtually any state at any time. What do you need to know about responding to a tornado threat?

The difference between tornado watches and warnings:

  • A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. Listen to the radio or television for further developments.
  • A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit.

When a tornado warning is issued, take shelter in a building with a strong foundation. If shelter is not available, lie in ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away from the unit.

What to do if you are inside during a tornado:

  • Go to the basement, storm cellar, or the lowest level of the building.
  • If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
  • Get away from the windows.
  • Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
  • Use arms to protect head and neck.

(source: Safety