A better answer, he said, would be to plan. "I think there is today a storm shelter or solution for just about every situation, so I would urge people to consider procuring a storm shelter for their home."
The options for shelters are many: above-ground, below-ground, mounted in the garage, on the patio, on a poured slab or even in a space carved out beneath the slab.
Shelters at schools
Ed Bates said he includes provisions for storm shelters in the buildings he designs, but sometimes it's a tough sell.
"It's just disgraceful for me to see how many schools in Oklahoma continue to get built with all the priority on athletic facilities," the architect said. "They don't seize the opportunity to protect from a very imminent danger in this area."
That was not the case at Northeastern State University in Tulsa, where his proposals were welcomed. "We were able to build honest-to-goodness tornado vaults, concrete vaults, as double-purpose classrooms," he said.
Inside the shelter's blast-resistant doors is ample space to accommodate the school's thousands of students and staff members, he said. Its value was driven home soon after it was completed, when a tornado struck nearby, causing damage, he said.
"I went out there to the campus about three days later, and three of the lady professors just ran up and hugged me and said, 'Mr. Bates, we just want to thank you,'" he said. "They said, 'What a peace of mind!' "
Teachers at schools without shelters can find themselves in untenable positions, he said. "A tornado gets announced, and then the teachers have no choice but to stay right there until every one of the parents of those children arrive," he said. "That's not the way it ought to be."
The fact that seven students at Plaza Towers Elementary School were among the dead has given momentum to advocates for shelters in schools. Plaza Towers had neither a basement nor a shelter, and neither did Briarwood Elementary, which was also destroyed, although there were no fatalities there.
The schools that were rebuilt in Moore after a tornado in 1999 do have storm shelters, he said. That one, too, was an EF5, the most powerful category of storm. Such tornadoes represent a tiny fraction -- about one-tenth of a percent -- of all tornadoes, according to FEMA.
Most of the schools in Oklahoma don't have a shelter because of the cost, Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis told CNN. But he predicted that will change.
"There should be a place that, if this ever happened again during school, that kids can get to a safe place," said Mikki Dixon Davis, whose 8-year-old son, Kyle, died at Plaza Towers.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, said it was not clear Kyle would have survived even if he had had access to a shelter. "Some of the shelters that were utilized collapsed or were destroyed by the tornado," he said.
"We'll never replace her child or fill that void in her heart, and we ought to do what we can do to prevent this kind of result, but there's only so much we can do. We put 200 shelters in in the last four, five years in Oklahoma in schools, so it's not like the state hasn't been making an effort."
Leslie Chapman-Henderson rejected "chatter" suggesting that no above-ground shelters could have withstood Monday's winds.
"We don't know that; that hasn't been determined," said Chapman-Henderson, the president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Inc.
"We're concerned it's going to set the cause of tornado safety back decades if we can't get fact-based conversations rolling forward," Chapman-Henderson said.
She expressed confidence that Oklahomans will learn from Monday's events. "I hear a very diverse voice converging on one message: that this time, we have got to do this differently."
As the debate continues over whether to invest in storm shelters, here are a few tips that experts say everyone should follow:
-- Don't ignore those warnings
There's a saying in Oklahoma: If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes. The skies can change fast and that makes it hard for weather forecasters to predict the weather.
But whether you're in Oklahoma or anywhere else, don't dismiss tornado watches and warnings just because the forecaster got last week's predictions wrong.
And don't fall victim to thinking a tornado can't happen in your neighborhood.
"Time and fading memories are the worst enemies," said Chapman-Henderson. "People think it can't happen twice, but in the case of Moore, Oklahoma, the tragedy here is this is the third strike -- 1999 to 2003."