COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — With the risk for strong, severe storms today, it is important to have a safety plan in place. 

Tornado watches continue for most of Central and Southern Ohio until 9 p.m., and several severe thunderstorms have already been issued this afternoon.

Part of staying prepared is knowing the difference between a watch and a warning.

A watch means that the conditions in our atmosphere are favorable for severe weather, and you still have time to prepare.

As soon as a tornado warning is issued, it is time to take cover inside of a sturdy structure because severe weather is immediate or actively occurring.  In the case of a tornado, that means that either rotation has been indicated on radar or a trained spotter has seen a tornado.

The safest place to be during a tornado is in a basement or an underground shelter if possible. 

If you don’t have an underground option available, the safest place to be is in the most interior room on the lowest floor. 

This room is often a bathroom or closet, and should be away from windows allowing you to put as much space as possible between you and the outside. 

If you live in a manufactured or mobile home, it is important to find another option so that you can stay safe.

It is also important to make sure that you are staying weather aware from a reliable source like NBC4.

Remember that you can watch us online, or check in on the live VIRP Radar at anytime by downloading the free NBC4 Mobile Weather app on your smart phone or other device.