What we can VERIFY about the safest places in your home during a tornado

Here’s what we can VERIFY about tornado safety for people living in homes with and without basements, apartments and mobile homes.

What we can VERIFY about the safest places in your home during a tornado

Severe weather hit the South on Tuesday, bringing tornado warnings and high winds that blew roofs off homes, flipped over campers and tossed about furniture in Florida.

There were several reports of radar-confirmed tornadoes, the National Weather Service said.

The violent storms led many people online to ask about the safest places in their homes to take shelter during a tornado.

Here’s what we can VERIFY based on whether you live in a home with or without a basement, an apartment or a mobile home.

THE SOURCES

    WHAT WE FOUND

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    1. A basement is the safest place in a home during a tornado.

    Though no place is completely protected during a tornado, the safest place to take shelter in your home is the interior part of a basement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a National Weather Service (NWS) office in Michigan say.

    But our sources recommend doing more than just getting to the basement during a tornado.

    First, avoid windows that could explode and injure or kill people in the home.

    For added protection from flying debris, the CDC and NOAA recommend getting under something sturdy, such as a heavy table or workbench, and covering yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag if you are able to do so.

    Do not take shelter where there are heavy objects like refrigerators or pianos directly above you; they could fall through the floor if a tornado strikes your home.

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    2. People without basements can take shelter in a room on the lowest floor.

    If you live in a home without a basement, an apartment or a dorm, all of our sources recommend going to an inside room without windows on the lowest floor of your home. This could be a center hallway, bathroom or closet.

    NOAA adds that people without basements can also take shelter under a stairwell if they can do so. Many homes have small storage spaces beneath the stairwell, according to the insurance company Progressive.

    “If you have space underneath a stairwell, it’s one of the safest places to be during a tornado, especially if it’s away from windows,” Progressive says. “Stairs are constructed to support a tremendous amount of weight, which means you are likely safe from anything collapsing on you.”

    The other rules to protect people living in homes with basements apply in these cases, too. Make sure to get under something sturdy and cover yourself with thick padding, such as a mattress, sleeping bag or blankets, if you are able. Do not take shelter under heavy objects.

    3. People in mobile homes should go to a nearby building or underground shelter.

    If you live in a mobile home, our sources say you shouldn’t stay during a tornado since these homes can turn over during strong winds. Mobile homes built before 1976 are particularly vulnerable to high winds, NWS says.

    “Even mobile homes with a tie-down system cannot withstand the force of tornado winds,” the CDC adds.

    People who live in mobile homes need to go to a nearby building – preferably one with a basement – or an underground shelter.

    If there isn’t shelter nearby, our sources recommend lying flat in the nearest ditch, ravine or culvert, and shielding your head with your hands.

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