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Severe storm coming? Here's what to do

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Rubble left behind at the Prairie Lakes Estates trailer park in Chetek Wisconsin after a deadly EF2 tornado swept through the park.

Spring and early summer is the peak season for severe weather outbreaks in the United States. It's also a time to be sure you and your family have a plan in place should severe weather and tornadoes strike. 

While most people are aware that the safest place during severe weather and tornado warnings is in the safety of a basement or storm cellar, not everyone lives and works in a building equipped with these. 

For those of you without a basement at home, school or office, the safest place to take refuge is in a windowless room at the center of the building on the ground floor. Often, this turns out to be a bathroom. Another safe haven might be to shelter under a staircase, in a closet or even a hallway.

Once you arrive at your safe haven, crouch as low as possible to the ground, facing down, with your hands over your heads to protect yourself from flying debris. You should refrain from seeking shelter next to any heavy objects that could fall on you. It's always a good idea to wear shoes and try to put a bike or football helmet on if one is available. 

At your workplace or school, the same recommendations apply. Go to an enclosed, central spot on the lowest floor possible. Interior stairwells are often a good place to wait out the storm. Avoid elevators during the storm because you might become trapped if the power fails. 

While it's not entirely true, it seems as if mobile home parks are a magnet for tornadoes.

The National Weather Service says that nearly 40 percent of all tornado deaths have historically occurred in mobile homes, according to weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. Residents of these types of homes should abandon them in favor of a sturdy building during severe weather. This alternative structure should be a part of a severe weather plan that is identified well in advance."

Being caught in a mobile home during a severe storm and tornado could be one of the most dangerous places to be. While this goes for everyone, people living in mobile homes should be aware of the weather on any given day. Have an app or sign up to receive alerts on your phone to know when your area is in danger. The sooner you are warned, the faster you can seek shelter.

Because mobile homes are not designed to withstand the force of a tornado or even straight-line winds common in severe storms, it's important that you leave the mobile home to find shelter elsewhere. Many mobile home parks now provide storm shelters for residents, but if that is not the case where you live, then the best course of action is to get out before a storm hits. 

If no shelter is immediately available and there's no time to seek shelter elsewhere, the best thing to do is to leave your mobile home and find the lowest-lying area near you and lie down in it, covering your head with your hands.

Above all, it's important that you and your family are aware of weather conditions in your area and prepared in the event severe weather strikes.

"If tornadoes are expected in your area on a given day or night, it might be a good idea to spend the day or night at a sturdier location such as a friend's house," Dolce said.

It could be a life-saving decision. 

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