Tornadoes do millions of dollars in damage each year to property in the United States. Thankfully, there are usually few fatalities. This is almost always because people know proper tornado safety precautions.
Flying debris is the number one killer when a tornado strikes. This is why the first safety precaution is to get inside a sturdy building, away from windows. A storm shelter is always preferable, but if one is not available, a person should go into an interior room on the lowest level of the building. The idea is to put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Interior closets or bathrooms are good places to hide.
It's always a good idea to take along a pillow or to wear a bike or motorcycle helmet to protect the head. The person should also put shoes on. This is because the high winds from a tornado may blow out a window, and the person may have to walk over broken glass or other debris after the storm passes.
Motorists who find themselves in tornadic thunderstorms, or who spot a tornado, should pull over and find a ditch or ravine to lie down in. A dry culvert with some shelter is good, too. A popular television show had storm chasers hiding under an overpass, but this is a bad idea because the winds can blow someone out from under the structure, and a direct hit could destroy it. Somewhere below ground level is always a preferable shelter. Don't try to drive faster than the storm is moving. A motorist should always seek shelter rather than trying to outrun the storm.
Mobile homes are death traps and should be vacated as soon as possible. They are particularly prone to being flipped and torn by the rotating winds in a tornado, and more deaths occur in mobile homes than in any other kind of structure. People in office buildings should follow the home rule of getting in the center of the building on the lowest floor, away from windows. A gymnasium or any room with a large, unsupported roof should be vacated as well. These buildings are prone to roof loss in a tornado.
A tornado is a dangerous storm and should never be taken lightly. However, except in cases of an extremely violent tornado, following common sense safety precautions will almost always limit injuries and prevent fatalities.