Tornado checklist: What to do – and what myths to ignore

The storm system that swept out of the Great Plains and through the Southeast over the weekend, spawning tornadoes and severe winds that officials say have killed at least 43 people, serves as a sharp reminder to review the tornado to-do list. Some regions see more – and stronger – tornadoes than others, but no state has remained tornado-free.

Here are six items severe-weather experts advise putting on your tornado-emergency checklist – along with four tornado-response myths to ignore.

Know where to go, what to bring, and who to tell

Morris L. Manning / Iowa State Daily / AP / File
A tornado roars through an Ames, Iowa, neighborhood after leveling one home, damaging several others, and downing trees and power lines on Nov. 12, 2005. Be prepared before a tornado comes by knowing where you will find shelter and packing a 'go kit' with emergency supplies.

Before a storm, make sure you have a place to seek shelter, either in your home or -- especially if you live in a mobile home -- a strong shelter nearby you can move to if a tornado warning is issued. Each person should have a "go kit" ready to grab on the way to shelter. The go kit should include a first-aid kit, flashlight and batteries, identification, matches, copies of important financial documents, an extra set of clothes, and other items. Have a relative outside your community serve as an emergency contact so if family members are caught by the storm in different locations, they can call their status in to that relative. Emergency managers say it's often easier to get a call out to a distant community in a disaster than it is to call someone within the same community.

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