Be Prepared For Severe Storm Weather

iStocklightning_000006285309SmallTornadoes, floods, thunderstorm winds, and lightning, can be deadly for the unprepared. Since 2003, 43 states within the continental United States have come under a tornado watch; 49 states have come under severe thunderstorm watches; and lightning strikes occur in every state.

Take these tips from the National Weather Service:

If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and very dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it — and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911.

No place OUTSIDE is safe in or near a thunderstorm. In 2014, there were 26 lightning fatalities – six in Florida alone. Stop what you are doing and get to a safe place immediately if:

  • You hear thunder. If you hear thunder it’s a safe bet the storm is within 10 miles. Since a significant lightning threat extends outward from the base of a thunderstorm cloud about 6 to 10 miles, so you should be in a safe place when a thunderstorm is 10 miles away.
  • You see lightning. The ability to see lightning varies depending on the time of day, weather conditions, and obstructions such as trees, mountains, etc. In clear air, and especially at night, lightning can be seen from storms more than 10 miles away provided that obstructions don’t limit the view of the thunderstorm.

In a tornado:

  • Flying debris is the greatest danger, so store protective coverings (e.g., mattress, sleeping bags, thick blankets, etc) in or next to your shelter space, ready to use on a few seconds’ notice
  • Forget about the old notion of opening windows to equalize pressure during a tornado. Avoid windows and use your time to get to your shelter space. Learn more about tornado safety.

Any time you come to a flooded road:

  • Whether driving or walking Turn Around Don’t Drown®. It only takes 12 inches of water to carry off a small vehicle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. Don’t underestimate the force and power of water!

Learn more about preparing for, surviving, and recovering from storms and other disasters, visit the FEMA National Preparedness website.