Editor's note: The following is advice from CNN Meteorologist Sean Morris on steps you can take when a tornado watch or a tornado warning is issued in your area.
A tornado watch means that tornadoes, high winds, and hail are possible in the watch area.
When a watch is issued in your area, keep abreast of the latest information by monitoring television, radio, and NOAA weather radio. A NOAA weather radio is a must, especially for storms that may occur overnight, when you may not be monitoring television or radio. Know the name of the county or parish in which you live and keep road maps handy to assist in tracking the storms.
Tornado warnings mean that a tornado has been spotted, or that radar has indicated that one exists. When a warning is issued in your area:
- If you are home, the best place to go is your basement or cellar. For homes without a basement or cellar, go to the lowest floor and take shelter in an interior room or under a stairwell in the center of your home, away from windows. Protect your head - if you have a bicycle helmet, use it! If you don’t, use pillows or blankets to protect your head and body.
- If you are caught outdoors, try to find a building with a basement, a cellar, a shelter or sturdy building. If you can’t do this, stay in your vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to a shelter. If flying debris hits your vehicle, it is best to pull over and park, but do not get out of your vehicle. Do not seek shelter under bridges or overpasses, because these offer little protection. Put your head down below the windows and cover yourself with a blanket or pillows.
- In schools, office buildings, nursing homes or skyscrapers, go to an interior room or hallway away from windows. Crouch down and cover your head. Do not use elevators, because you could be trapped if power is lost. Stairwells without windows also are good places to take shelter.
- In a shopping mall, church or theater, move to an interior room such as a bathroom or a storage room. Stay away from windows.
- If you are in a mobile home, leave immediately and seek shelter in a sturdy building or shelter. Mobile homes offer no protection from a tornado.