Severe Weather Safety Tips

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Tips

A hurricane is a tropical cyclone, which forms over tropical or subtropical waters. They are one of nature’s most powerful storms, producing strong winds, surge flooding, and heavy rainfall which can lead to fatal inland flooding, tornados, and rip currents.

Hurricanes pose a threat to people and property. It is important to know your risk, especially if you live in a high-risk zone. Consider these tips:

  • Know your zone: Familiarize yourself with your hurricane season dates, and learn your evacuation zones and routes in your community. You can find your evacuation zone here. 
  • Make a plan: Write down emergency numbers, know your routes, locate your nearest shelters, and prepare an emergency supply kit. 
  • Gather emergency supplies and stock up on everything you need now. Prepare the following:
  • Emergency food and water supply – this includes foods that have a long storage life and require no refrigeration, cooking, or water. Be sure they meet the needs of all family members.
  • Emergency medicine supply
  • Safety items – this includes first aid kits, fire extinguishers, gloves, life vests, flashlights, and hand sanitizer.
  • Get ready: If you have been warned that there is a hurricane approaching, you need to get ready before the storm hits. 
  • Go over your emergency plan with your family.
  • Get your car ready – this includes filling your car’s gas tank, moving your car into a garage or under covers, and placing an emergency kit in your car.
  • Get your home ready – this includes covering up windows and doors, shutting off your power, filling clean water containers with clean water, and checking your carbon monoxide (CO) detector’s battery to prevent CO poisoning. 
  • Evacuate! If possible:
  • Grab what you need only, such as cell phones, medications, identification like passports or licenses, and cash. 
  • Unplug all appliances, shut off your power, gas lines, and water.
  • Follow the recommended traffic routes.
  • Contact your local emergency management offices and ask if they offer any accommodations.
  • Stay safe. If you cannot evacuate, try to:
  • Keep your emergency supply kit close by.
  • Stay inside, even if it looks calm outside.
  • Stay far away from windows and doors.
  • Listen to the radio or TV for updates on the storm.

Tornado Tips

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air, usually attached to the base of a thunderstorm and extends to the ground. Tornadoes are one of the most violent and fatal natural phenomena we experience. About 1,200 tornadoes hit the US every year, which makes it important for you to be prepared. Here are some tips:

  • Be informed: Find out if you are in a high-risk zone, and know when tornado season is approaching. 
  • Know the signs. Some tornadoes approach fast, without warning. Here are some signs that a tornado is near:
  • Rotating funnel-shaped cloud
  • Approaching cloud of debris
  • Dark or green-colored sky
  • Large, dark, low-lying cloud
  • Large hail
  • Loud roar that sounds like a freight train
  • Make a plan! Discuss the following with your family:
  • Out-of-state emergency contacts
  • A safe place for you and your family to gather during a tornado
  • Where your first-aid kit is located
  • Where the utility switches or valves are located so they can be turned off 
  • Prepare your home. You should ensure that your home is safe if you need to stay in. Address the following:
  • Keep furniture away from windows, mirrors, glass doors, and large pictures. This will help keep your furniture from breaking and leaving shards of glass and other hazardous materials in your living space. 
  • Store heavy items on the ground, or no more than 30 inches off the ground. 
  • Bolt and secure all heavy furniture and items. 
  • Store all poisons, solvents, and toxic materials in a safe space. This includes common household cleaning products, such as bleach.
  • Remove outdoor items, such as patio furniture and umbrellas. 
  • Turn off utilities, including electricity, gas, and water if need be.
  • Keep your emergency supplies on hand. 
  • Evacuate: While there are no completely safe places during a tornado, safer places include basements, cellars, or rooms without windows. If you are living in a mobile home, you need to evacuate to a tornado shelter. 

Flood Tips

Flooding is an overflow of water, whether a few inches deep or capable of submerging entire buildings, that occurs when water cannot be fully absorbed in the ground. Floods are a leading cause of fatalities and economic loss in the United States. 

Consider these tips to keep yourself and your family safe:

  • Be informed: Find out if your home is in a high-risk or flood-prone zone. Sign-up to receive alerts, warnings, and public safety information. 
  • Make a plan! You should discuss the following with your family:
  • A safe, high-ground location where you will all meet
  • An out-of-state friend or relative to serve as your emergency contact
  • List of emergency contacts in your cell-phones 
  • Prepare your home:
  • Elevate your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to higher floors if they may be at risk during a flood.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters to allow water to flow away from your home.
  • If you have a basement or lower level of your property prone to flooding, buy and install sump pumps with back-up power.
  • Stock up on foods that have a long storage life and require no refrigeration, cooking, or water, and keep them in higher areas of your home.
  • Keep emergency medications and supplies in higher areas of your home.
  • Evacuate! If you need to evacuate your home, quickly:
  • Grab what you need only, such as cell phones, medications, identification like passports or licenses, and cash. 
  • Unplug all appliances, shut off your power, gas lines, and water.
  • Follow the recommended traffic routes.
  • Contact your local emergency management offices and ask if they offer any accommodations.

Extreme Cold Winter Tips

In most regions, near freezing temperatures are considered extreme cold weather. Extreme cold temperatures may lead to serious health problems, since when temperatures drop below normal and wind speed increases, heat can leave your body more rapidly. Extreme cold is dangerous, especially to those most susceptible such as the unhoused, those who are stranded, and those who have poorly insulated homes. If you find yourself in an area that is susceptible to extreme cold, here are some tips:

  • Plan ahead! Keep a winter survival kit in your home that includes:
  • Food that needs no cooking or refrigeration, such as bread, crackers, cereal, canned foods, and dried fruits
  • Water stored in clean containers for drinking and using 
  • Medications that all members of your family need 
  • An alternate way to heat your home, such as firewood for fireplace or wood stove, a kerosene heater, or electric heater 
  • Blankets, mittens, hats, and warm clothing 
  • Snow shovel
  • Rock salt
  • Prepare your home! It’s important to prepare your home for the winter season. Be sure to:
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them inspected and cleaned regularly.
  • Make sure your home is properly insulated.
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic to provide insulation.
  • Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so your water supply will be less likely to freeze.
  • Place an easy-to-read thermometer in an indoor location where you will see it frequently, and check the temperature of your home often during the winter months.
  • Prepare your car! You can avoid dangerous winter travel by ensuring the following:
  • Have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze as needed. 
  • Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
  • Replace any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires.
  • Keep a winter emergency kit in your car at all times that includes blankets, first aid kit, matches, windshield scrapers, booster cables, tow rope, tire chains, snow shovel, flashlights, batteries, and shelf-stable foods. 
  • Practice outdoor safety. If you need to go outside, make sure you are keeping safe. Here are some suggestions:
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