Staying safe in severe weather

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Does your family have a severe weather safety plan? If not, you need to. Especially if you live in a mobile home.

Tonight, we'll show you why it's so important to plan ahead so you're sure to have shelter from the storm.

Parts of two towns, destroyed, in less than a year. We were there, in both Wessington Springs and Delmont and saw the damage. Two incredible examples of how being prepared and knowing what to do when storms strike will save your life.

For those of you that have a basement, the solution is easy. You go there, you go to the basement and get under something heavy. If you live in a mobile home, it is not that easy. You have to get out because they're simply not safe. And that takes planning.

Todd Heitkamp is a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls and he has been surveying tornado damage his entire career and has seen first hand how unsafe mobile homes are in a tornado. "If you go to the scene of a weak tornado with speeds of 90 to 100 mph and it's a mobile home, the mobile home is usually destroyed. But when you compare that same wind hitting a home that has a full basement, you have just minor roof damage and maybe some cosmetic damage and that's it."

Statistics prove that you are much more likely to die in a tornado if you live in a mobile home. Between 1985 and 2007 42% of tornado deaths were of people that live in mobile homes, that's a staggering statistic considering only 7 1/2 to 8% of residences in United States are mobile homes.

We're not telling you this to scare you. In fact mobile homes are great places to live. We're telling you to stress the fact that you need to be prepared.

Still there are no laws in South Dakota that require mobile home parks to have a shelter.

And while some mobile home parks have shelters, most do not.

And the ones that do, according to mobile home park resident Misty Wagner, aren't necessarily adequate. "There is a shelter across the street, but it would not be big enough for the entire community."

We heard the same thing from mobile home park resident Tim Jones. "Most of the mobile home parks have shelters do not have enough. Many of them are like here, decent and safe it could use better ventilation and as far as space, we could use more in the court."

So do we need a law requiring shelters? Here's what National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Heitkamp told us. "I'll leave that up to state legislature to decide but, honestly, I think the more that we can do to enhance the safety of people to live here, the better off we all will be."

If you don't have a shelter, there's a family business in Bonesteel, South Dakota that has an option.

On the prairie of south-central South Dakota in this ready mix yard filled with feed bunks, septic tanks, and concrete blocks there are these.

It might not look like much, but in the moment of need, if you have one, it'll be the most important thing you own.

For Andy Divine, what started as a random customer request nearly 20 years ago has turned into big, life saving business.

These in-ground and above ground storm shelters are entirely South Dakota made and they have a history of saving lives. "They were going to wait it out in the building but at the last minute they decided it into the shelter."

Just last June when twin tornadoes destroyed the town of Pilger, Nebraska, everything at the local sand and gravel business was decimated except for this shelter and the eight people that were inside.

Kelly Wollman with Divine Concrete pointed out something interesting. "You can see where a car hit this shelter and where the wheel; hit then it was tossed across the yard."

Whether you have a shelter or not, the most important thing is to be prepared. it will save your life.

The storm shelters sold by Divine Concrete range from just over $2,500 for an in-ground to around $3,000 for an above ground.