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The Dallas Morning News/G.J. McCarthy

Insight Denton: I live in a mobile home. If a tornado is coming, where should I take shelter?

Never shelter in a mobile home. Emergency managers say mobile homes are not safe during severe weather, even if the home is tied down. In a worst-case scenario, you should leave your mobile home and head to a ditch or other low-lying spot nearby, lay face down and cover your head with your hands. 

Most people who die in storms are killed by flying debris. Mobile homes are too flimsy to protect you from flying debris, whether from strong, straight-line winds or from a tornado. 

Local emergency managers aren't aware of any area mobile home parks that have tornado shelters. No state or local building code requires they be built.

Emergency managers recommend you make an emergency shelter plan when you move into a mobile home. If possible, find a permanent structure nearby. 

Some mobile home parks in Denton have a clubhouse that might be available for shelter, said Rodney Patterson, head of the city's building inspectors.

Make sure you know how long it takes to get to the shelter so you don't get caught on the way. (Your vehicle isn't safe in a storm either.) The National Weather Service issues a tornado watch when conditions are right. This may give you an hour or more to prepare. 

A tornado warning follows the observation of a tornado. Either a trained storm spotter sees the funnel cloud or a National Weather Service meteorologist spots the signature on radar. According to Mark Fox, a senior meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, the agency puts out tornado warnings about 13 minutes in advance, on average. 

"Like all averages, there is a wide range of actual times, from zero to around 30 minutes," Fox said. "Tornadoes are quite erratic, and a car is one of the worst places to be during a tornado. Make sure you have a shelter in mind before the storm, and identify a place to be long before the initial warnings go out."

The fastest way to get weather alerts is to sign up for them, either by getting a call from Code Red or putting a weather app on your phone. 

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881.