There are ways to protect yourself during a tornado if you live in an apartment building

Photo By: Daniel Loretto/ThinkStock

Tornadoes can occur without warning and cause large amounts of damage.  I live in an apartment and do not have a basement so, what do I do when those tornado sirens go off?  If you live an apartment, you should have a plan laid out ahead of time.

According to the National Weather Service, get to the lowest floor, with as many walls between you and the outside as possible.  If your complex does not have a reinforced shelter, you should make arrangements to get to an apartment on the lowest floor possible.  AKA, make friends with your downstairs neighbors and make a plan of action involving them.

    • Bathrooms Bathrooms MAY be a good shelter, provided they are not along an outside wall and have no windows. Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing magically safe about getting in a bathtub with a mattress. In some cases, this might be a great shelter. However, it depends on where your bathroom is. If your bathroom has windows and is along an outside wall, it's probably not the best shelter.
    • Closets A small interior closet might be a shelter. Again, the closet should be as deep inside the building as possible, with no outside walls, doors or windows. Be sure to close the door and cover up.
    • Hallways If a hallway is your shelter area, be sure to shut all doors. Again, the goal is to create as many barriers as possible between you and the flying debris in and near a tornado. To be an effective shelter, a hallway should as be far inside the building as possible and should not have any openings to the outside (windows and doors).

You should NOT leave your home in your vehicle when a tornado threatens. You will have a better chance of surviving by staying put. Every home is different - there is no absolute safe place in every home. Unless you are deep underground, there is no such thing as a 100% tornado-proof shelter. 

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