ROSEVILLE, Minn. - With minutes to react, the choices we make are crucial when severe weather knocks on our door.
But long before the storm even arrives, experts say there are two things you should do first.
Designate a safe place in your home to shelter you and your loved ones and put together a disaster kit.
Let's start with finding shelter, which typically should be in your basement. But just getting down there isn't good enough.
Make sure you are not underneath your kitchen or laundry room where big appliances are located that could fall on top of you if the first floor should give way.
"Even in your basement you'd like to be completely underground in an interior area," said Kris Eide, Director of Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "The bathroom because of all the pipes around creates some shielding is probably a really good spot."
But what if you don't have a basement? The bathroom is still the best option, she says.
"And if you have a tub, get in the tub and put like cushions and pillows or an ironing board on top of you because of the flying debris," she said.
Those items should be near your sheltered area within reach.
Now to your emergency kit; this should be ready to go in your safe area before nasty weather even develops.
"And every kit should be geared for your family. So if you have children and pets, make sure you have supplies for children and pets in there too," she said.
Besides the obvious things like a flashlight and water, there are other items that may not come to mind so easily, like old tennis shoes.
"The tennis shoes are really important because I don't wear shoes in my home. So if I were to come out of where ever I was in for shelter, I would be walking over debris. So make sure you have shoes," said Eide.
Food and a whistle to notify first responders in case you're trapped should be included too, along with a first aid kit.
All of these itemscan be storedin a plastic tub or shoe box.
Experts also suggest you have a weather radio in your home.
And if you should get separated from loved ones after a tornado hits, have a meeting place and a designated person your family calls.
"We actually have my sister in Fargo. So if we're all split up we call my sister in Fargo because most likely Fargo will not be affected when Minneapolis is," she said.
The last place you want to be during a tornado is in your car.Advice is mixed on what to do if you can't avoid it, which KARE 11 andMinnesota Public Radio News discovered in our joint report, Storm Ready.
Some disaster experts believe you should ditch the car and find a low lying area. Others believe you'll have a better shot of survival staying in your car.
Both however are last resorts and experts say it's up to the driver's specific circumstances.
"It's really just an incredibly difficult decision you have to make," she said.
The best option is to find shelter, however under a bridge is not a good spot. Experts say the wind is usually the strongest there.
If you cannot find shelter and you feel you need to stay in your vehicle, Eide says there are a few things you can do to increase your odds of survival.
"They should turn off the car, keep their seat belt on, get as low below the window level as you possible can and cover your head. And just ride it out," she said.