What do you do when a tornado hits?

Lawton_When a tornado hits you never know where you may be, and you certainly could be nowhere near a shelter - you could be out shopping, at the office, or out with friends.  Officials say no matter where you are, you should stay put.  But, what else can you do to protect yourself when a violent storm or tornado hits?

Comanche County officials say that they - along with other local businesses - have a set of procedures should a tornado hit.  Comanche County Emergency Management Director Clint Wagstaff says that most public buildings have an emergency plan.  "When you enter the building, check for the emergency plan that is posted on the walls and stairways," he said.

While your instincts may tell you to flee, don't do it.  Leaving a location to move to another could put you in even greater danger.  "Do not leave the building if tornado sirens go off, or when it is spotted," said Wagstaff.  "Seek shelter within the center of that building."  However, seeking shelter in the center of a building such as the mall is not safe since many have skylights, and all of the storefront glass is dangerous.

Malls typically have severe weather corridors for those inside to take shelter.  "We want them to be in a corridor where there is a lot of structural building integrity,," said Grady Morgan with Central Mall.  "As you can see, you can see the concrete walls and the structural steel - it's relatively safe here, there is no debris to fly around."

If you are outside and debris is flying around, as it probably will be, officials advise you to seek shelter in a building.  If you are driving, they recommend you pull over after you find a building where you can take shelter.  If there are no buildings around, a ditch may do the job.  During a tornado a lot of debris and other material is most likely flying over head.  Once you are in the ditch, lay down flat to prevent flying debris from injuring you.

Do not be tempted to take shelter under an overpass - it's proven to be one of the worst places to be.  If you are inside a public building or at home when a tornado hits, stay there.  For more information visit Comanche County's website at www.comanchecounty.us.