The first and most important thing you need to know before coming up with any tornado preparedness plan is the difference between the types of warnings. A watch means to ‘watch out’; the conditions are right for a tornado. A warning means ‘take cover immediately’; a tornado has either been spotted on the ground or has shown up on radar. Many times people get the terms switched, so knowing them ahead of time could potentially save your life.
The second thing is knowing the safest areas to take shelter during a tornado. If you are in your house, the best places to take cover would be in a basement or in a hallway that is away from any outside walls. Closets and bathtubs are also good. You can use blankets, pillows, or even mattresses for added protection. You should avoid all windows. It is a common belief that having windows open during a storm will help keep the house from getting major damage. This is, however, false. At least, you’ll only end up getting extra water damage, and at worst, something may get blown in that otherwise would not have. If you are traveling on the road, do not try to stay in your car or outrun the storm. Find a ditch and lay flat, with your hands covering your head. Another popular myth is that it is safe to take shelter under an overpass. This is not true and very dangerous to do. The winds can become stronger when being funneled through an overpass.
The last thing you will need is what I like to call my ‘storm gear’. These are items that you will need while you are waiting out the storm. First and foremost, you should have a weather radio. The radio will keep you up to date on the storm. In some cases, it’s the only warning you will get. You should also have a few flashlights, extra batteries, and some bottled water. The CDC recommends having a list of emergency phone numbers and a first aid kit as well.