Florida's tornadoes can be deadly

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The midwest is known for tornadoes and is nicknamed "Tornado Alley.'' Florida, Fugate says, has as many tornadoes as those states but lacks some of the big twisters that the midwest is known for.

Still, Florida's tornadoes can be deadly.

Since 1959, at least 29 tornadoes have hit Alachua County, resulting in 19 injuries and one death. During the March 1993 winter storm, a tornado ripped through the small town of La Crosse and killed a child. The mobile home she and her family lived in was blown apart by 70-mph winds.

Important in surviving a tornado is having a year-round plan for what to do when one hits, Fugate says.

"We tell people when you hear the roar of the freight train and you don't live near the railroad tracks, now is not the time to decide what to do,'' he said.

Preparing a home tornado plan includes picking a place where family members could gather if a storm is headed your way. It could be a center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor. Also, assemble a disaster-supplies kit containing a first aid kit with essential medications, a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, canned food, a can opener, bottled water, sturdy shoes and work gloves.

Listen for updated weather information on local radio and television stations. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible, and a tornado warning means one has been sighted and may be headed your way. When a warning is issued, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects.

If you are outside, hurry to the lowest floor of a sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety. Many people wrongly think that being inside a mobile home is safer than being outside, Fugate said.

TORNADO SAFETY TIPS