Safety in Malls and Auditoriums

Buildings that have long spans without many support structures such as shopping malls, auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums, churches and theaters have few interior load-bearing walls. This makes them especially dangerous in a tornado. 

If you are caught in a mall, school auditorium or cafeteria, a church, or theater, you should seek shelter in the buildings designated Disaster Area. These areas designed to protect you from falling and flying debris, are usually in a lower level of the building. If there are weather advisories when you enter one of these types of buildings, you should check with building personnel to be sure you know where the Disaster Area is. 

If you are in a building that has no designated disaster areas, you should seek shelter in a restroom. Restrooms in public buildings are generally constructed of concrete block, and the metal partitions help withstand falling debris.  Interior stairwells or storage rooms offer an acceptable alternative, but may already be crowded. 

Avoid elevators, as you may be trapped if the electricity goes off. As a last resort, get up against heavy shelving or under tables or counters that will support, or at least deflect, falling debris. Stay away from windows. In a theater or auditorium, get under the seats and protect your head with your arms or hands. DO NOT GO TO YOUR PARKED CAR.

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