It’s equally important to take steps to protect yourself, your family and others, says Mary Knapp, Kansas state climatologist and director of the Kansas Weather Data Library at Kansas State University. Here are her recommendations on steps that families and businesses alike can take to be as prepared as possible:

• Review your severe weather safety plans. Consider how you’ll monitor changing weather conditions. It’s a good idea to have more than one method to receive the warning.

• Buy a weather radio. Using a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio brings a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly into your home or business. These radios now feature special area messaging called "SAME," which allows you to select the area of interest when receiving warnings and alerts. Some versions have additional features such as strobe lights and bed shakers that can serve special needs.

• Sign up to receive text messages and other alerts over the phone. Local radio and television stations also are good way of getting up-to-date information. Remember tornado sirens are designed to alert people to danger in an outdoor setting; they’re not designed to be heard inside buildings.

• Determine where you’ll seek shelter. A designated storm shelter near where you live or work would be the first choice. If one isn’t available, seek shelter at the lowest level, placing as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Interior rooms, such as closets and bathrooms, are good choices. Plan this location in advance and talk to family members and/or work colleagues in order to respond quickly when needed.

• Store emergency supplies in your shelter. This should include a flashlight, portable radio and batteries, water and other essentials. See a detailed list at

• When traveling, be alert to conditions that may develop along your route. In many cases, it’s safer to stop and allow the storm to pass rather than try to drive through it. Remember that a highway overpass isn’t a safe shelter; in addition to the storm danger, you’re at risk from other vehicles.

“Remember that not all tornadoes have the clear, visible funnel,” Knapp says. “Tornadoes can be completely wrapped in rain, making them difficult to detect with the naked eye.”

A final caution is that severe storms are also a source of lightning, high winds, hail and flash floods. Any of these hazards can be just as deadly as a tornado, Knapp adds.

For more on severe weather preparedness, go to