RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Powerful images from across the Central Plains, Mid West and the South tell the terrible story of mother nature's brute force.
Homes have been leveled, people killed and communities are in chaos.
These are images Red Cross experts are used to seeing. It's what keeps them pushing these messages of preparedness.
"Time saves your life. You have to have a plan because in an emergency we don't have time to debate or to be confused about our steps because every second counts," local Red Cross CEO Reggie Gordon explained.
Recently CBS 6 News practiced a home tornado drill with Gordon.
We headed to a downstairs interior safe room after hearing a warning that many can get, thanks to a tornado app on a smart phone device.
Drills like that are equally important in schools. Gordon says parents should ask their children questions about how often teachers and administrators are conducting those drills.
Parents can take one simple step right now. That is, to make sure their children can be easily reunited with their loved ones after a disaster.
"On the inside of backpacks, parents can duct tape the names of contact people so kids and teachers are able to make sure that families are reconnected after an event occurs," Gordon said.
If you happen to be driving in an area where there is a tornado, Gordon says the best thing for you to do is to stay inside of your car. As the NOAA also says, vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado.
There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible.
Gordon says if you are caught and can't get out, park the car out of the traffic lanes, buckle up, keep the car running and cover your head with a jacket or anything soft in your car as you try to get as low to the floor as possible.
Keeping the car running allows the airbags to deploy if things get rough, Gordon explained.
Gordon says if you happen to be in a shopping area during a severe weather event, find a safe place without windows.
The bottom line, experts say is to remain weather aware and don't wait until the last minute to devise a plan.
The Red Cross encourages everyone with a smart phone to download their tornado app.
You can also watch all of our CBS 6 newscasts LIVE on your phone.
For more Red Cross disaster relief information, click here.