As severe weather moves your way, you'll want to make sure you have a safe spot in case of tornadoes.
"I'm not going to be one of those who just brushes it off," Karen Middleton said.
Middleton says she takes severe weather seriously after seeing the damage they can cause.
"Total destruction — you can't even imagine the force of those winds. I take it very seriously," Middleton said.
That's why she along with others across North Alabama are getting ready for Thursday's storms.
"Prepare and make sure the outdoors is in a good shape. So if branches fall or something like that, we don't have to worry too much," Skye Samadani said.
While some people have a safe spot at home, others rely on community shelters. Depending on where you live, those shelters may open at different times.
WAAY 31 reached out to every county EMA in North Alabama.
Jackson and Marshall counties will open their community shelters by Thursday morning.
Lawrence County opens its shelters when a thunderstorm warning goes into effect.
Franklin, Limestone and Morgan county shelters will open during a Tornado Watch.
Meanwhile, community shelters in Lauderdale, Madison and DeKalb counties could open at varying times.
That's because they're not run by the county EMA, but by a municipality or by volunteer managers. They set their own rules for shelters and decide when they also open. However, county EMAs say those shelters are usually asked to open during a Tornado Watch.
Rules at shelters can also vary depending on which county you live at. The rules will be posted on the front door. They usually include basic rules like no smoking or no firearms.
Most community shelters in North Alabama don't accept pets inside storm shelters, which can be tough for some.
"They're like your furry toddlers. They're your kids," Amir Samadani said.
County EMAs say pets can remain in your car outside of the shelter.
However, there are some that make exceptions in Jackson County like the basement of town hall at Section and the garage of the Jackson County Courthouse. There are also some spots of safe refuge in Marshall County that allow pets inside. Some of the shelters that aren't operated by county EMAs may also accept pets. Pets may have to be crated or leashed.
Service animals will be allowed inside shelters as long as they're leashed. Some counties may even require paperwork.
Meanwhile, masking is encouraged at all county shelters. Some places may enforce wearing a mask while others will have some available for people seeking shelter. County EMAs remind people the state mask order is still in effect and ask people to take the necessary precautions.
Other rules may vary, especially between shelters that aren't owned by the county EMA. It's recommended you call ahead of time to make sure you know what is and isn't allowed.
Overall, all EMAs in North Alabama ask people to be weather aware Thursday and have a plan in place, and people say they'll
"You don't want to take any chances on your life or on your family," Laura Sims said.
You can find a full list of storm shelters here.