Tornadoes are starting to appear in the southern states and if you are a resident of a tornado prone area, it is time to think about shelter/survival plans if you have not already done so. Even though spring is largely regarded as tornado season, tornadoes do not strike exclusively in that particular season, so in truth year-round preparedness plans should be in place. What is tornado season for you will depend on your location, as some areas are prone to tornadoes earlier or later in the year, and flukes out of season have been known to occur.
In many places, tornado shelters are common, but that is not the case across the board. In some places, tornado sirens exist, but it is also not 100% certain that they will exist in a tornado prone area. Even though survival options and precautions are out there, they are not everywhere, which means you are going to have to take accountability for yourself, watching for severe weather in your area and having plans to avoid it. It is true that nothing can truly guarantee safety as a tornado bears down upon you (barring something like an in ground storm shelter), but you can take precautions to increase the likelihood of survival while decreasing the possibility of injury at the same time.
Despite what the rumor mill says, tornadoes are not attracted to trailer parks. Trailer parks are simply more susceptible to damage due to the weight of trailers and lack of sufficient anchoring. As far as the argument that tornadoes only strike flat lands such as the plains, that is also untrue as tornadoes have hit hilly areas as well as mountain ranges. Another falsehood about tornadoes is that you should open windows to equalize pressure; this will not matter as tornadoes are perfectly capable of blowing windows out, and if you are tinkering with one in an effort to open it, you are in far too dangerous of a place. You should also avoid seeking refuge under an overpass as a wind tunnel is created there and chances are you will be sucked out from under there or hit and injured by flying debris.
What you should do when a tornado is approaching will depend on where you are. If at home, seek shelter on the first floor nearest to the center of the house in the strongest window-free room possible, such as a bathroom or closet. Should a basement or cellar be present in your home, opt for that instead and position yourself away from heavy objects on the next level. In the event you have a safe room which is constructed to survive tornado, that will be the safest place in your home as it was built with a tornado in mind. Once in a safe location, protect yourself by covering up with whatever is near; a mattress is good but even a blanket is better than nothing and can shield you somewhat from debris.
If you are in a vehicle, do not try to outrun a tornado. If it is possible to determine which way a tornado is going and you are able to move in the opposite direction away from it, that is your best bet. Watch the tornado's movement in relation to a fixed object to determine its path, but be warned that the path can change abruptly, placing you in harm's way. Abandoning your vehicle may be necessary, but if you find yourself stuck in your vehicle and unable to move, buckling your seatbelt and turning your body away from glass may be your best chance at survival.
In the event that a tornado catches you out in the open, seek shelter in a ditch or culvert, lying as flat and low as possible. Avoid trees and vehicles as those things can be tossed about in a tornado and could injure you. If nearby buildings are present, such as shopping malls or other large buildings, it is best to avoid those and opt for the ditch as such large buildings are more prone to collapse.
Important to remember is that a Tornado Watch is issued when ideal conditions are present for tornado development. Once a watch is in place, keeping up with weather news is highly recommended. Having a NOAA weather radio can help you do this. When a tornado has been visually spotted, the watch will be upgraded to a Tornado Warning and you should take immediate safety and survival precautions at that time, remaining in position until the threat has passed. Even in the best case scenario with all safety measures taken, surviving a tornado might require a stroke of a good luck and being in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately we will never know until it is over what we should have done or could have done, so it is best to do all you can in advance of a tornado in hopes of coming out unscathed on the other side.