What to do when you're at the mall or store and a tornado warning is issued

TULSA - You're at the mall with your kids, and you hear there's a tornado taking aim.

What do you do, and where would you go?

a) Run to your car, and try to escape from danger? OR

b) Hide under a rack of clothes at a store? OR

c) Jump over the counter at the food court? OR

d) Run to the rest room?

In most cases, finding any place to hide inside the mall is better than trying to escape the storm by going outside, because when a tornado approaches, indoors is always preferable to outdoors. 

That said, there are good choices and better choices when it comes to finding safe shelter in a big and open building such as a mall. Here are some hints:

-- Small enclosed rooms with sturdy walls and lower ceilings are your best bet for safety. Taking shelter in a rest room or a sturdy storage closet in a rest room is an excellent choice. 

-- Stay away from those big open areas with high expansive ceilings, and stay away from windows or glass ceilings. That means, in general, you'll want to run away from the open walkways in the middle of the mall. Running inside a smaller store and hiding under a rack of clothes might give you a last-chance for safety when there's no time to look for something more sturdy.

-- If the mall has an underground level, that's a better option than the top floor.

-- Fully-enclosed stairwells may provide better protection, but stay away from escalators and elevators. 

Your best bet for safety:  Plan ahead. Know the weather forecast before you go shopping. For the malls you to most often, find out in advance if they have designated Tornado Shelters, and teach your kids where they are.


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