(NEW YORK) — Thousands of residents across the U.S. have been in the path of tornadoes that have ripped through 22 states.
A whopping 352 tornadoes have been reported from California to New Jersey in the past 12 days, killing at least one person in Ohio, according to the National Weather Service. May has been the most active month for tornadoes since April 2011, which had more than 800 reported tornadoes.
Even more severe weather is expected Wednesday from Texas to New York, which is expected to include tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail.
It’s important to be prepared and act quickly in the event of a tornado. Here are some tips on how to stay safe when a twister occurs:
Heed the weather alerts
Tornadoes can strike with little to no warning and can change direction at any moment.
A tornado watch indicates that weather conditions in the area can allow a twister to form, while a tornado warning means that a tornado was sighted in the area and could be headed toward you. Local radio and television stations will provide updates, and the National Weather Service radio station gives 24/7 updates on weather conditions.
Look up at the sky
A dark, often green sky can be a tell on weather a tornado is coming, according to FEMA.
In addition, large hail and large, dark and low-lying clouds are also signs that a tornado is imminent, as well as strong winds with roars that sound similar to a freight train.
Find shelter during a tornado
Seek refuge in a small, interior room without windows on the lowest level of a home if a safe room is not available, according to FEMA.
Take additional cover by shielding your head, neck and arms, and putting materials such as furniture and blankets around you.
Do not try to outrun a tornado. If you’re in a car or outdoors and cannot get to a building, head to the lowest ground possible, such as a ditch or land depression, cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body with a coat or blanket, if available.
Also stay on the lookout for flying debris.
After the tornado is over
If you are trapped under debris, cover your mouth with a cloth or mask if possible to avoid breathing in dust. Try to send a text for help, but instead of yelling, bang on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, according to FEMA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends checking yourself and your family for injuries and seeking medical attention immediately, if necessary.
During cleanup after a tornado, wear thick-soled shoes, long pants and work gloves. Stay away from downed power lines and be careful when walking around or through any damaged structures that may be unstable.
In addition, save phone calls for emergencies, as phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster.
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