HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — This week is Virginia Severe Weather Awareness Week. While tornado drills were cancelled across the area since school is not in session, it's important to know some steps you can take to stay safe during a tornado warning.
If you are at home, go to the lowest level, such as your basement. If you don’t have a basement, the first floor of your home in a center interior room works best. This often means a bathroom, or a closet. the number one thing you want to do, is get somewhere away from windows.
If it's a day when we know there's a threat of severe weather, it's a good idea to prep your safe place with sneakers or a sturdy shoe, and something to cover your head. Why sturdy shoes? Most injuries from tornadoes come after the tornado when there's a lot of debris around. If you have to climb over pieces of wood or insulation, you don't want to do that barefoot.
Many workplaces also have plans for tornado warnings. Look at your workplace, where would the best location be? Those also include going to the lowest level of the building away from windows. Also be aware that you might not be at home or work if a warning is issues. What if you're in a restaurant, or grocery shopping? The number one thing to remember, is to get low, and away from windows. Cover your head.
Taking cover can be tricky if you are driving, but a car is one of the worst places to be when a tornado warning is issued. If there are no shelters near you, a ditch is the best place to go. If a ditch is not an option, lay low to the ground. Sometimes you have to make the best decision you can given the situation.
The important takeaway from tornado warnings are that you need to act quickly and be aware of your environment. Sometimes, you may only have a few seconds or a minute to take shelter.
Seek shelter first, and then look up secondary information.
Another important note is that any open shelters such as a bridge or pavilion are not safe options.
Make sure you download the WHSV Weather App to get the latest alerts so that you are prepared if a tornado poses a threat in your neighborhood. It's also best to have multiple ways to get alerts.
Phone alerts are good, but what if a tornado destroys cell towers? A NOAA weather radio is one of the best options but in our area, the signal isn't consistent.
Check out more information on the graphics below.