With each new season comes new weather patterns. Spring and fall are especially volatile, as the warm and cool air meeting can cause unpredictable weather and severe storms.
With fall approaching, it's important to make sure you're prepared for all the weather this season brings. In a previous article, we discussed what to do before, during and after hurricane. Today we'll look at some other severe weather and how to prepare.
We’ll also discuss 72 hour emergency kits which anyone should have ready at all times for any emergency situations.
Let's get started with the most destructive storm on Earth…
Tornadoes are violent by nature. They are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). Although severe tornadoes are more common in the Plains States, tornadoes have been reported in every state.
The Difference Between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning
Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately underground to a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
How to Prepare for a Tornado
- Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
- Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.
- Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
Tornado Danger Signs
- Dark, often greenish clouds – a phenomenon caused by hail
- Wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm
- Cloud of debris
- Large hail
- Funnel cloud – a visible rotating extension of the cloud base
- Roaring noise
What to Do During a Tornado
- The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
- If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
- Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
- Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
- If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately.
- Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately, using your seat belt if driving.
- Do not wait until you see the tornado.
- If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot, quickly walk to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
Flash flooding is the number one killer associated with severe weather. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.
The Difference Between a Flood Watch, Flood Advisory and Flood Warning
Flash Flood Warning: Take Action!
A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.
Flood Warning: Take Action!
A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening.
Flood Watch: Be Prepared
A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.
Flood Advisory: Be Aware
A Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.
What to Do During a Flood
Water levels and the rate the water is flowing can quickly change. Remain aware and monitor local radio and television outlets. Avoid flood waters at all costs and evacuate immediately when water starts to rise. Don't wait until it's too late!
When Flood Waters Recede
The damage left behind can be devastating and present many dangers. Floods can destroy homes and buildings, damage possessions, and decimate roadways. However, what you can't see can be just as dangerous. Floodwaters often become contaminated with sewage or chemicals. Gas leaks and live power lines can be deadly, but are not obvious at first glance.
The above information has been courtesy of the National Weather Service at http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/.
TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN!
Never Drive or Walk into Flood Waters – Turn Around Don’t Drown! On average, flooding claims nearly 90 lives each year. More than half of these deaths occur in motor vehicles when people attempt to drive through flooded roadways. This happens because people underestimate the force and power of water, especially when it is moving.
The following video demonstrates what can happen to a vehicle in a flash flood.
Lightning: What You Need to Know
- NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!
- If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
- When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
- Stay in a safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Indoor Lightning Safety
- Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
- Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips
If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:
- Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges, or peaks
- Never lie flat on the ground.
- Never shelter under an isolated tree.
- Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
- Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
The above information has been courtesy of the National Weather Service at http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/.
72 Hour Emergency Kits
There are many types of disasters and emergencies: floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. In many cases, a 72 hour kit could mean the difference between life and death. It is estimated that after a major disaster, it may take up to three days for relief workers to reach some areas.
Every member in the family should have their own 72 hour emergency kit. The following infographic is a perfect example of what the 72 hour kit should include.
Have a severe weather story you'd like to share? Tell us in the comments below!
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