11 things to know to stay safe during a tornado

PITTSBURGH — We don't see a lot of tornadoes in western Pennsylvania but they do happen. It's important to know what to do in order to keep yourself and your family safe.

Here are 11 tornado safety tips:

1) Know the difference between a watch and a warning.

A watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to develop.

A warning means a tornado has been spotted or radar suggests there may be a tornado and you should seek shelter immediately.

2) Have multiple ways to get warnings.

Download our Severe Weather Team 11 app for the latest radar and alerts.

3) Once a tornado warning is issued, go to a basement for shelter.

If you do not have a basement, seek an interior room away from windows. The idea is to put as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible.

4) Debris is the No. 1 killer in tornadoes. If you have time, put on a bicycle helmet. If not, try to protect yourself from debris by using a mattress or pillow.

5) If possible, try to avoid the southwest corner of your home when seeking shelter. Most tornadic storms will come in from that direction.

6) Do NOT try to open windows to equalize pressure. This is a myth that will only leave you with little time to get to safety.

7) If you’re on the road and you see a tornado, pull over and seek shelter in a sturdy building. Try to avoid big box retail stores that offer little protection due to the material their roofs are made of.

8) If you’re on the road and there is no shelter, seek a ditch or low-lying area, lie flat and cover your head.

9) If you’re on the road, you can also pull over your vehicle and lower your head beneath the windshield. Make sure your seat belt is on.

10) Have an emergency kit and a plan in place before the tornado strikes.

11) Avoid walking around outside after the tornado hits as power lines may be down. Wait for emergency officials.

Follow our Severe Weather Team 11 meteorologists for the latest weather in your town.

Severe Weather Team 11
Stephen Cropper
Scott Harbaugh
Kevin Benson