The heartbreaking images coming from Moore, Oklahoma are a cold reminder of the danger we face this time of year in Tornado Alley. Here are some tips on being prepared should a tornado strike in your area.

Before A Tornado

You want to prepare a supply kit and family communication plan.

Your kit should include a flashlight with extra batteries, a weather radio, first aid supplies, any required medications and enough food and water to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours. Relief crews may have a difficult time getting to your family after a destructive storm, so you’ll need to be prepared for such delays.

A communication plan should be discussed with your family in case you’re not together when the storm hits. You’ll want to decide where you’ll meet if separated or where you’ll go if your home is severely damaged. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with landmarks in your area that can help you identify your neighborhood and any area family members might be when away from you such as workplaces or schools. A major tornado can level entire towns and render them unrecognizable or unnavigable even to life-long residents. Check with your local city office, schools and faith-based organizations to see if they have communications plans or meeting spots that can help you if needed.

During A Tornado

If you’re in your home, office or school during the storm, get to a central, low-level location away from windows. If you have a basement or storm cellar, go there immediately and listen or watch for signs that the storm has passed before venturing out. If you’re in a mobile home, get to the nearest sturdy building or cellar. Mobile homes are easily tossed about by severe storms and offer no protection.

If you’re traveling in a vehicle, pull over if you can and get into a sturdy building or low-lying area. Avoid bridges or overpasses – you’re actually much safer in a low, flat location. Keep your head covered and watch for flying debris. Do not try to outrun a tornado in urban areas or in congested traffic!

After A Tornado

Check your party for injuries. Do not move or otherwise disturb an injured person unless there is an immediate danger of further injury. Wear sturdy shoes and watch for nails, broken glass and other debris. Be extremely careful when digging through or entering damaged structures.

Monitor emergency broadcasts and follow instructions from emergency officials carefully. If you are trapped, try to make noise or otherwise attract attention to your location. Conserve food and water as best you can until relief arrives.

With the right preparation, you and your family stand a much better chance of withstanding severe weather. You can find more tornado safety tips at ready.gov.