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At home, work, running errands or in a car? Here's how to find the safest place during severe weather

Having a plan, whether at home or work, can make a difference.
Credit: RobertCoy - stock.adobe.com

ST. LOUIS — With the potential for severe weather, having a plan for your family and coworkers is important.

Being weather aware during these severe weather days in the St. Louis area is crucial, and could save a life.

Your family tornado plan at home is based on the kind of dwelling you live in. Know where you can take shelter in a matter of seconds should a tornado warning be issued for your area or the storm is moving into your neighborhood. Stay in your safe place until the threat of a tornado has passed. Have a pre-determined place to meet after a disaster. Using text messaging instead of calling on cell phones is often more successful during times of destructive weather. 

READ MORE: This is when we could see severe weather in the St. Louis area this week

Download the free 5 On Your Side app to get the latest watches and warnings and track conditions live with our interactive radar. Use the links below to download now. 

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Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes; so store protective coverings like sleeping bags or thick blankets in or next to your shelter space. That way they're ready to use on a few seconds' notice. A bike helmet to cover your head can offer extra protection, and always wear your shoes!

When a tornado watch is issued, think about your safe place wherever you are. Make sure you are staying up to date on any severe weather already in the area. 

RELATED: Check our live interactive radar

Most schools, shopping centers, nursing homes, hospitals, sports arenas and stadiums have a severe weather plan. Many have identified the safest areas with with easy-to-read signs that are posted to direct everyone to a safe shelter area.

The 5 On Your Side weather team will be tracking the storms Wednesday and when there are tornadoes, look for live coverage on KSDK.com, our phone app, Roku and Amazon Fire TV apps, YouTube channel and on TV.

Stream 5 On Your Side: To add the 5 On Your Side app to Roku or Amazon Fire TV, search for "KSDK" to find the free app to add to your account. Get weather updates, the latest local news and special reports from 5 On Your Side. 

How to find a safe space in severe weather

The Storm Prediction Center provided the following tips for staying safe during a tornado or storms. Here's how to find the appropriate safe place when severe weather strikes.

In a house with a basement

Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with blanket or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you. Head protection, such as a helmet, can boost survivability also.

In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment

Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. If you have a metal bath tub, that may offer a shell of partial protection, but not plastic or fiberglass ones, which are easily penetrated by projectiles. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury. 

In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper

Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building — away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.

In a mobile or manufactured home

Get out! Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. Go to one of those shelters, or to a nearby permanent structure, using your tornado evacuation plan. Your plan could include staying with someone who is in a sturdy permanent structure, if a tornado threat is forecast. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. This mobile-home safety video from the State of Missouri may be useful in developing your plan.

At school

Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or windowless room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

In a car or truck

Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones.

If the tornado is visible, far away and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building or underground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.

In the open outdoors

If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.

In a shopping mall or large store

Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.

In a church or theater

Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

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