***10 a.m.: Missouri and Kansas statewide tornado drill.***

Sirens in both states will sound at this time for five minutes or so. This is an opportunity to practice your tornado plan with your family at home.

All this week, the FOX 4 Weather Team will be getting you ready for the upcoming severe weather season. Yesterday, we focused on how you should be receiving weather information. Obviously, getting it directly from watching FOX4 is the best option, but there are others avenues as well.

Today is about turning that weather information into action when a tornado comes through our area. Let’s talk about the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning first.

A watch is issued when the atmosphere is CAPABLE of producing a tornado. In other words, the ingredients are there, but there’s no final product yet.

What is a Tornado Watch?

When we have a tornado watch in the area (orange box on our weather maps), that’s when it’s even more important to stay up-to-date with our changing weather, even if you’re out and about and can’t be watching on TV all day. That’s a great opportunity to download the FOX4 Weather App, which gives you severe weather alerts and notifications right to your phone in any severe situation. You can download it for free in the Apple App Store or Google Play. This is the time to make sure that everyone in your household knows the safety plan!

A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is already in progress or is about to develop. In other words, we now have a final product! This is when you NEED to take action if your county (also know what county you live in) is included in the warning!

What is a Tornado Warning?

So, if you don’t have a plan, where should you go in a tornado warning situation? If you’re home, work, or just in a sturdy building, go to the lowest level of that building and stay away from exterior walls and windows. If you’re caught outside when tornado sirens go off, get to that sturdy building. If you happen to be driving, try and quickly find a shelter. If none is available, get out of the car, get to a low lying area, like a ditch, and lay down face first and cover your head and neck.

The do’s and don’t’s of tornado shelters.

NEVER stay in a mobile home or under an overpass to ride out a twister! Why? Because mobile homes can roll and overpasses will speed up the the air flowing through it. Meaning that debris can hit you or you can get pushed out of that “safe spot” into the exposed, open area.

One last thing: tornado sirens! It’s important to mention that the tornado siren system shouldn’t be solely relied on to keep you safe from tornadoes. Its sole purpose is to alert people that are OUTSIDE to an incoming twister. Unless you live very close to one, the sirens will likely be too hard to hear with thunderstorms rolling through at the same time. So, that’s why it’s best to stay tuned to us on-air or online so you know exactly when/if you need to take shelter.

In short, this week (and specifically today) is a great time to exercise that safety plan, or develop a new one. Tell your family about it and practice, practice, practice. That way you’re 100% ready for anything this season!

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