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What to do in a Severe Storm Without Proper Shelter



Author: Mckenzie Parrott


There is always time to prepare and secure plans for what your family would do in the middle of a severe storm. Spring and early summer can be a substantial season for severe weather outbreaks in the United States. Invest now before disaster strikes to organize and educate yourself on what to do in all situations. Even with weather forecasting, it’s common for individuals to be taken off guard during a storm. People may be traveling, not familiar with the area, or away from their homes.


There is no such thing as guaranteed safety during a tornado or severe thunderstorm. Nonetheless, practice and enhanced knowledge before the storm can better your chances of survival. Understanding the signs of a tornado and staying alert is an initial step. Here are some things to look and listen for:

  • Persistent rotation of the cloud base
  • Whirling dust or debris under the cloud base
  • Hail or heavy rain
  • Loud, continuous roar or rumble
  • Flashes at the ground level near a thunderstorm


Most people are aware that the safest place in a tornado or severe thunderstorm is in a basement or storm cellar, but not everyone is fortunate enough to live and work in an environment with these amenities. For those without a basement in your home, office, or school, the next safest place to take refuge in an incident would be a windowless room at the center of the building or ground floor. Most commonly this safe haven turns out to be the bathroom facilities in structures. Another comparable sheltered place would be under a staircase, hallway, or closet. While identifying these safe spots make sure to recognize unsafe areas with nearby heavy objects that could possibly fall on you. If you are in a mobile home, it is advised to get out! Tornadoes are notorious for ripping through and demolishing mobile homes. Even if your home is tied down, the likelihood of the tornado destroying and uplifting the home is high. Get to the closest permanent structure and make sure you’ve organized a tornado evacuation plan. During the storm, get as low as possible to the ground, covering your head and facing down to protect yourself from debris.


If you are in a vehicle during an extreme event, attempt to drive away from the storm and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If you are caught by extreme winds, park your vehicle as soon as possible and make sure all passengers are buckled. Secure your heads in between your legs and below the window level. If possible, cover your heads with any blankets, coats, or cushions. If there is no vehicle or shelter immediately available, the best thing to do is find the lowest-lying ground and lie in it face down, covering your head.


After the storm, keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Stay away from damaged structures, powerlines, and wires. Remain calm and alert, listen for emergency operations and instructions from emergency crews or local officials.


The utmost importance in any severe storm or disaster is preparedness. Simply creating a plan, informing your family, identifying safe places, assembling supplies, and forming a communication plan could be a lifesaving decision for you and your loved ones. If you have any questions regarding preparedness please reach out to me at and don’t hesitate to download our “Key to Recovery” for critical pre- and post-disaster information as well as tips on emergency response.