The tornado season for 2013 has begun, and it is important for you and your family to know how to stay safe in case of a tornado.

The key to staying safe in a tornado is being prepared and having an emergency plan established.

One must know when and where to shelter in the case of an emergency. If there is a tornado watch, it means that conditions are optimal for the formation of a tornado. During a tornado watch, one should stay up-to-date with the weather and be prepared for the watch to turn into a tornado warning. A tornado warning means that a tornado has already been spotted and that all those in the surrounding area should take cover immediately.

When taking shelter, it is important to have a designated area to go to. The area should be a small, interior room, away from glass. This room should never be on an upper floor of a building; basements or lowest levels are the best option. Avoid large rooms if possible because they are more likely to collapse inwardly in the case of a tornado. If no interior rooms are available, find a small room on the north or east sides of your shelter because tornadoes typically travel from southwest to northeast.

Once in the emergency shelter, one should remember to crouch with face to the floor and hands over head. Additional protection could be pillows, coats, blankets or a small mattress placed over oneself.

It is advisable to keep one's designated shelter space stocked with an emergency supply kit. Make sure to include nonperishable foods, water, flashlights, cash/credit cards, a first-aid kit, battery-powered radio or TV and extra batteries.

If a tornado approaches and one is not near their designated shelter location, one should be aware of where to go in public locations. In large shopping malls, the rules are essentially the same - small interior rooms on the north or east sides of the building away from glass fronts. Gymnasiums and auditoriums should be evacuated, as should mobile homes and cars, because they provide little to no protection from tornadoes.

If one has nowhere else to go other than their car, they should lie flat in a ditch, culvert or on the lowest area of ground available until the storm passes.

After a tornado hits, one must remember to stay up-to-date with the news and weather to ensure their safety before exiting their emergency location. It is important to help those who need first-aid attention if possible. If others are seriously injured, do not move them unless they are still in the way of more danger.

Be conscious of the environment after a tornado and remember to follow all safety rules in a destructed area.