When a Severe Storm Watch or Warning Is Issued
WHN TIP – Get the FEMA App: Download the free FEMA Alert App to get severe weather alerts, maps of disaster resources and other helpful information in case of natural disasters. Information is in English and Spanish and available for Apple, Android, and Blackberry mobile devices.
Before the Storm
- Be safe, be smart.
- Stay alert. Monitor your local radio or TV stations for the latest updates, news or evacuation information.
- Online, visit the National Weather Service’s homepage for current watches, warnings, statements and advisories.
WHN TIP – Tornadoes: Tornadoes may develop from severe thunderstorms along and ahead of cold fronts, according to NOAA. If your area is experiencing a thunderstorm, prepare now for the possibility of a tornado.
WHN TIP – Lightning: If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. If you are outdoors, go inside to a safe shelter immediately.
- Gather everyone in the house and review storm readiness procedures, so everyone remembers what to do when a storm is approaching.
- Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are forecast.
- Prepare the house:
- Shut and latch all doors and windows, draw the blinds and drapes.
- Secure outdoor objects such as lawn furniture that could blow away and cause damage or injury.
- Bring vehicles under a covering or inside a garage.
- Bring pets and animals into a shelter.
- Check your Home Disaster Preparedness Kit and stock up and/or replace missing items.
- This lists all items (food, water, emergency supplies, tools, clothing, sanitation items) you may need during and after a thunderstorm.
During the Thunderstorm
- Be safe, be smart
- If you are at home or any other small building, go to the basement. If there’s no basement, go to the lowest level and stay in the smallest interior room, such as a closet or bathroom.
- Tornado sirens may sound, which means you should take cover.
- Stay away from windows, skylights or glass doors.
- Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose. Metal pipes and plumbing can conduct electricity if struck by lightning.
- Do not use the telephone any more than necessary. Dial 911 ONLY in emergencies.
- If you are in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie it down.
- If it begins to hail:
- Do not go outside.
- Hail can be smaller than a pea or as large as a softball.
- Remain indoors until the “all clear” notice is given by emergency management or local law enforcement.
Away From Home
- Be safe, be smart
- If you are in a high-rise, office or school building:
- Stay in a windowless room, if possible. Go to interior rooms or halls. Avoid elevators.
- If you are in a car and severe weather approaches:
- Pull safely onto the shoulder of the road away from any trees or large limbs that could fall on the vehicle.
- Stay in the car and turn on the car’s hazard lights until the heavy rains subside.
- Avoid flooded roadways, since the roads may be washed out. Also, rapidly rising water could overwhelm and stall the engine, engulf the vehicle and sweep it away.
- If you are outside:
- Avoid water. Do not go out in a boat or go swimming. If you are on the water and you see bad weather approaching, head for shore immediately.
- Crouch down, grab your knees, and tuck your head to your legs, making yourself as small a target as possible.
- Avoid tall structures such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines, or power lines. Stay away from natural lightning rods such as golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles, or camping equipment.
Download the Red Cross Emergency app to monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.
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