What should I do if I see a tornado?

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — While official tornado season may be well behind us, severe weather and hurricanes still have the ability to cause twisters to rise up. In the event that you find yourself surprised by a sudden tornado weather event, here’s what officials say you should keep in mind to stay safe.

If you’re in a car when a tornado approaches, do not attempt to outrun it. Instead, find the nearest sturdy building or seek shelter in a ditch or ravine. Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe, but as a last resort, passengers should keep their seatbelts on, get down in the car away from windows and cover their heads, according to guidance from the National Weather Service.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s National Center for Environmental Health, a few of the best ways to make sure you stay safe upon seeing a tornado are to be prepared ahead of time:

  • Make sure you have a plan — Know where you can safely shelter and have an emergency kit ready
  • Stay aware of weather conditions — Stay tuned to local TV stations (especially 8News), radio, or the internet for the most up-to-date weather conditions with rapidly changing weather
  • Know where to shelter — Falling and flying debris cause the most injuries and deaths during a tornado. For optimal protection, seek shelter in a windowless room on the lowest floor of the building. For added protection, get under a sturdy structure like a table, and cover your body with a blanket or mattress.

In addition, the CDC recommends recognizing the signs that mean a tornado might be coming, which include:

  • A dark or green-colored sky
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud
  • Large hail
  • A loud roar that sounds like a freight train

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