You're at home and you hear the news on TV that a tornado is heading for your neighborhood. You know you've got at least 3 minutes to get yourself, your kids and pets into the safest part of your home. Where do you go, and what do you do?
a) Quickly decide where your home's safest spot is, and then move everyone there?
b) Get the kids and pets into safety, and then you run throughout the house to open all the windows? OR
c) Take a moment to locate vital papers (birth certificates, passports, etc)? OR
d) Grab blankets, helmets and sturdy shoes to protect your loved ones and yourself?
First things first. If you wait until an actual tornado is upon you to determine where your family should take shelter, you've already wasted critical time. Do this today (don't wait until tomorrow!): have a family meeting to decide where your family will seek shelter, and make sure everyone knows your family's plan.
Similarly, if you're so concerned with losing your vital papers, go ahead now and put those papers in a safe, or in a sturdy file cabinet in a closet. You can't be shuffling papers when the storm is upon you.
Don't open any windows in your house. This is another tornado myth that has long been dispelled. In fact, stay away from all windows when a tornado is near.
Household safety gear is a good thing to have nearby. Once you have your family in its shelter, put infants in their car seats and put on bicycle safety helmets. Cover yourselves in as many blankets, bedspreads, sofa cushions and mattresses as you can.
At home, the basic rule is to put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible. Basements are best, but not everyone has a basement. You may be surprised to hear that very few Texans and Oklahomans have basements in their homes, compared to homes in other parts of the country. If you don't have shelter below ground, find a small closet or bathroom in the interior of your house, away from outside walls. A closet under a staircase is a good bet. Stay away from all windows.