Take shelter: How to protect yourself during severe weather

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When a tornado warning has been issued for your area what should you do?

The decisions you make could save your life.

The most common mistake that people make during a tornado warning is they want to see it for themselves, so they look out a window or step outside.

People will most often wait until they see or hear a tornado coming before taking action. This could prove deadly as it wastes valuable time you could use to take cover.

Tornadoes can travel at speeds more than 50 miles per hour, often shrouded in rain or the dark of night.

Here is what you should know about taking cover during severe weather.


A basement or a below ground level is one of the best places to take cover.


If you don't have a basement, move toward the middle of your house. A great place would be an interior coat closet or a bathroom.

The tile and plumbing along and inside the walls make them stronger and help hold them together in storms.

Lie down in a bath tub or crouch in a shower while covering your head and body. You can use items for protection against flying debris such as a thick blanket or a mattress. Several residents of Oak Grove, Missouri survived the most recent EF-3 tornado in their bathrooms.


One of the places people might get caught out in a storm is a car.

The metal of the car acts like a shield to protect you from lightning as the electricity from the strike travels around the body of the car while the occupants inside are completely safe.

However, this is a very dangerous place to be during a tornado. Many fatalities occur from people trying to ride out tornadoes in vehicles. Tornadoes can flip or lift vehicles into the air with ease, launching them hundreds of yards.

Away from home

Many people who find themselves in severe storms with large hail will stop under a highway overpass to take cover. This may save your car from getting a few dings, but this is actually a very dangerous place to be. 

Vehicles crowding under the bridge will block traffic and could cause a crash in the low visibility. It is much safer to pull over to the shoulder and have a damaged car than it is to stop in the middle of the highway. 

One other myth about overpasses is they seem like safe places to be during a tornado but it’s actually the opposite.

When a tornado moves over an overpass, the wind gets squeezed between the bridge and the ground, increasing the wind speed and increasing the danger.

Anyone who has ever been in a large city on a breezy day will have likely experienced this same effect as the tall buildings increase the wind speed by funneling the air between them.

Mobile homes

Mobile homes are some of the most deadly places to be during a tornado. They are simply just not built to withstand the force of the wind. Even a tornado on the low end of the scale can crumple them like they were made out of tin foil and cardboard. 

If you live in a mobile home the time to take shelter from a storm is before it even forms.

When your weather team is forecasting severe storms it is probably best to go to a friend or relative's home that has a more suitable shelter. Waiting until a warning has been issued is too late as you may have only a few minutes to take cover.

With severe weather season in full swing, having a plan in place and knowing where to go when storms threaten will protect you and your loved ones. As always, your 41 Action News weather team will keep you advised with the latest and most accurate weather information to help keep you safe. 

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