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Tornado Survival 101: How to Stay Safe During a Tornado

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Multiple tornadoes ripped through the north Texas area Tuesday, tearing apart homes and tossing tractor-trailers into the road. Amazingly, no major injuries have been reported yet.

But would you know what to do if a monster tornado arrived at your back door?

Here are tips you can follow to stay safe before and during one of these fierce storms.

Tornadoes 101: What To Do Before the Storm

Tornadoes are quick-moving, fierce storms that can strike with little or no warning, and can change direction at any moment.

Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a tornado watch means weather conditions are right for a tornado to form in your area, whereas a tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area.

Pay Attention to Warnings


When the NWS sends out any tornado alerts or warnings, tune to the NWS radio, FEMA said. The station is dedicated to giving 24/7 updates on current weather conditions. Your local radio and TV stations will also announce NWS alerts.

Even if a tornado watch is issued for your area, stay inside and be aware of changing weather conditions.

Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website to track the country's most dangerous storms.

Watch the Skies


Sometimes it's as simple as looking out your window. FEMA advises that as long as the storm hasn't already hit, check the sky for the following danger signs:

  • Dark, often green sky
  • Large hail
  • Large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
  • Strong wind that sounds like a loud roar. It's often been described as similar to a freight train.

Tornadoes 101: What To Do During the Storm

When it comes to what you should do during a tornado, your strategy could change depending on where you are. Nonetheless the Red Cross suggests having a family preparedness plan ahead of time so everyone knows what to do when a storm hits and where to meet.

If you're in a well-defined building with sturdy walls, you should go to any pre-designated shelter if there is one, like a storm cellar or basement. If there is no pre-designed shelter, head to the lowest floor of the building and find the most central room. Be sure to stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.

If you're in a vehicle or mobile home, FEMA recommends getting out immediately and heading for a more secure building or storm shelter.

"Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes," FEMA says on its website.

If you're outside and there's no shelter available, get as low as you can. Head for a ditch or land depression and cover your head, FEMA recommends. Do NOT go under a bridge or overpass.

One thing FEMA says NOT to do that could be a natural instinct for most: Do not try to outrun the twister if you're in a congested or urban area.

"Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter," their website says.

Also, keep an eye out for flying debris.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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