It only takes a few seconds for a tornado to destroy a house.
Monster tornadoes like the one in Oklahoma may not be survivable, but most twisters and straight-line winds are.
• You need a personal plan, starting with a safe place. Go to and underground shelter, basement or safe room when you are told to. Don't go outside and don't look around or take pictures.
• If the above is not available, move to a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level.
• Abandon mobile homes and go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately.
• Most injuries and deaths come from flying debris. If you have a pillow, be sure to grab it to protect your head.
• If storms are expected, secure outside objects like patio furniture early in the day so they don't become dangerous projectiles.
• If you are caught outdoor, sand a basement or sturdy building is unavailable.
• Immediately get into vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
• If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort.
• Stay in your vehicle with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering it with your hands and a blanket if possible.
• If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car, and lie in that area, covering your head.
• Finally, have a family meeting place away from your home and because phone lines may be overloaded have a contact person out of the area to check in with.
There are tornado myths to avoid, like opening windows. It won't help and wastes precious time. Also, our tall buildings and Lake Michigan are not deterrents to tornadoes. The Chicago area hasn't had a tornado with destructive wind speeds like those in Oklahoma since 1990 in Plainfield and officials say we are at least 15 years overdue for a big twister.