Severe Weather Preparedness Week: What to do when a tornado is headed your way

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — We have looked at the difference between watches and warnings — remember, it’s a warning that triggers your safety plan.

When a tornado warning is issued for your location, remember two things: get as low as possible, and get as far inside as possible. If you’ve got a basement or a storm cellar, great. But most buildings in North Carolina don’t, so find the smallest room, farthest away from windows and outside walls — for most homes and buildings, that means a closet, hallway or bathroom. You want to put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Most injuries associated with tornadoes are from flying debris, so protect your head. You might even want to leave a bike helmet in your safe place.

If you’re in a mobile home, get out immediately. Mobile homes, even if they’re tied down, offer virtually no protection from tornadoes — we saw that in Alabama over the weekend. If you’re outside with no shelter available, find what shelter you can, but do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

Hail and straight-line winds don’t get the same respect as tornadoes, but they can be just as dangerous.

Hail falls at speeds of over 90 mph, and straight-line winds can topple trees onto cars, houses, and power lines. When a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued, just be inside a sturdy building — most houses will be fine unless a tree falls directly on the house, which is why you still want to stay away from the windows. And again, mobile homes offer no protection against damaging straight-line winds.

All of this sounds scary, right? Just be prepared — know where to go when you’re at home, at work, and at school, and you’ll be able to ride out the worst of what Mother Nature sends your way.

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