Severe Weather is something everyone all over the world has been through. From Hurricanes and Tornado’s To Blizzards, and Thunderstorms. With all the different weather patterns we deal with day to day it is important to always be ready for the worst, but hope for the best.
I grew up around the world and have dealt with almost all types of weather. Living in different weather climates I have come to learn that no matter where you live something could always happen, and if it does it is always better to be ready for the worst. I love studying the weather from good to bad, and that has made me a well prepared person on what I should and should not do when the weather turns bad. When I lived in Florida I got to meet my favorite meteorologist while working for the newspaper after Hurricane Ivan came through, and loved learning from him. I lived in Tornado Alley in Kansas for a year, and went through flooding while living in Virginia and Pennsylvania. I now live in Pennsylvania where we get any type of weather from blizzards and flooding to hurricanes when they get this far. During Tornado season we get a lot of watches, but have luckily only had a few actual Tornado’s.
I also have a military background which has helped me learn that being prepared for anything is better then not being prepared at all. This is one of the many reasons why I want to help ensure everyone is prepared as best as they could for any severe weather that could come your way.
BEFORE A STORM OCCURS:
- Familiarize yourself with the emergency action plans at your school or workplace and identify the appropriate officials and emergency management agencies in your area, with contact information and phone numbers in case you need assistance after a storm
- Take photographs of your valuables and store them in a fire- and waterproof safe. Also use the safe to store important documents such as birth certificates, ownership documentation for cars and boats, Social Security cards, insurance policies and wills.
- Locate and mark where utility switches and valves are in your home so they can be turned off in an emergency if time allows.
- Make sure to charge your mobile phone, laptop and other mobile device batteries.
- Develop a disaster preparedness plan for your family that includes the following:
- A place to go if necessary when a tornado watch or warning is issued, depending on where you are. At home, school, work, or if you’re outdoors or in your car.
- Plan for a friend or relative you’ve designated as your point of contact if you are separated from your family during a severe weather.
- Place where family members can meet if you’re separated after a tornado strikes.
- Names and contact information for your insurance agents, including policy types and numbers.
- Telephone numbers for your utility providers, including gas, water and electricity.
So What should you do and how prepared should you be? I will go over that now.
First!!! Every Household should have an Emergency Kit in an accessible area of the home that you can get to easily.
What to keep in your Emergency Home Kit:
Your Kit should include enough supplies to last for 3 days. Remember if you have multiple family members you need have more than just 1 item!
If you can keep all of these items in a big plastic storage tub or all together that’s great!
- Weather Radio.
- Flash Light with extra batteries.
- Hand Held Crank up Flash Light.
- 3 Gallons of Water Per Person, Per Day.
- First Aid kit
- Canned or dried food that does not have to be cooked. (example: Baked Bean)
- Blankets and old clothes.
- Helmets ( I keep 1 helmet per person in our basement for Tornado Warnings)
- Cash and important documents in a safe box
- Cell Phone and charger for home & car
- Don’f forget to include any pet items you may need
- Firewood for heat
3 Day Emergency Kit For your car:
- Try to have the above along with
- A shovel
- A tool to break your windows or cut your seat belt. They sell an all in one tool at Walmart.
- Gas can
- Extra Blankets during winter
Now that we have the Emergency Kits covered. What to do when a storm is headed your way.
- Severe storm
Lets go over the basics of a normal sever storm.
- If Thunder roars go indoors.
- If there is lightning:
- Stay away from window.
- Unplug electronics not only could a lightning strike fry them, but if you are using them, and it strikes your house you could be shocked.
- Do not take a shower. Electricity from lightning could travel through the pipes, and shock you.
- Do not go outside to try to take pictures of the storm, and stay away from metal and tall things like trees.
Tornado’s are one of the deadliest natural disasters because they occur quickly and people are not properly prepared. Even top storm Meteorologist get hurt or even killed during these storms because they are so unpredictable.
- Make sure your family members know and understand the siren warning signals, if there is such a system in place in your area.
- If you are under a Tornado watch make sure you have an Emergency Radio on in case power goes out.
- Ensure you have everything prepared in case you are put under a Tornado warning. Including things for pets.
- Do NOT go outside to try to take pictures or videos. A lot of people get hurt that way because of flying debris.
- Seek shelter in the lowest level of your home, such as a basement or storm cellar. If you don’t have a basement, go to an inner hallway, a smaller inner room or a closet.
- Cover yourself with a blanket to help protect against flying debris
- If you have spear helmets like we do. Put them on!
- Put your pets on a leash or in a crate
- Do not leave the building or house you are in to try to “escape” the Tornado
If you are outdoor during a Tornado Warning:
- Try to get inside a building as quickly as possible and find a small, protected space away from windows.
- Avoid buildings with long-span roof areas such as a school gymnasium, arena or shopping mall, as these structures are usually supported only by outside walls. When hit by a tornado, buildings like these can collapse, because they cannot withstand the pressure of the storm.
- If you cannot find a place to go inside, crouch for protection next to a strong structure or lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Cover your head and neck with your arms or a jacket, if you have one.
If You’re in a Car:
- If you can safely drive away from the tornado, do so.
- If there is a sturdy structure available, go inside.
- If no building is available, it might be better to pull over, stop the car (but leave it running so the air bags work), and crouch down below the windows. The airbags and frame of the car will offer some amount of protection, but certainly not absolute safety.
- A long-standing safety rule has been to get out of the car and into a ditch. If you do that, you should get far enough away from the car that it doesn’t tumble onto you. Being below the prevailing ground level may shield you from some of the tornado wind and flying debris, but there is still danger from those.
- Do NOT get out of a vehicle and climb up under the embankment of a bridge or overpass. This often increases your risk.
If You’re in a Mobile Home:
- Do not remain in a mobile home during a tornado. Even mobile homes equipped with tie-down systems cannot withstand the force of a tornado’s winds.
- Heed all local watches and warnings, and leave your mobile home to seek shelter as quickly as possible before a tornado strikes, preferably in a nearby building with a basement.
- If no shelter is immediately available, find the lowest-lying area near you and lie down in it, covering your head with your hands.
When a severe storm has passed:
Beware of Hazards:
- Keep away from downed power lines and report them to your utility company.
- Stay out of damaged buildings and homes until local emergency management officials have indicated it is safe to go inside them
- Watch for snakes or other animals that have been forced into your home by rising waters or flooding. Leave immediately if you smell fumes or gas, and notify emergency personnel.
- If your home has not been damaged, keep children and pets inside, away from any damage or debris outside. If you must take your pets outside, keep them on a leash to prevent them from running away and being injured by debris.
- If your home is without power, use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires
- Cooperate fully with local public safety officials and respond to request for volunteer assistance by police, firefighters and relief organizations, but do not enter damaged areas unless specifically asked to do so.
- If you suspect any damage to your home, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.
- If you see frayed electrical wiring or sparks, or smell something burning, shut off your home’s electrical system at the main circuit breaker, if you have not done so already.
Safety During Cleanup
- Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves whenever you handle, walk around or near debris. Many of the injuries caused by tornadoes result from stepping on nails in and around damaged homes and buildings.
- Clean up any dangerous spills immediately, including medicines, bleaches, chemicals, gasoline or other flammable liquids.
Now let’s go over Hurricanes.
Hurricanes are like no other storms on earth. These ferocious weather systems bring torrential rain, flooding, storm surges and devastating winds that damage homes, destroy treasured keepsakes and disrupt family life.
A lot of what to do and what to be prepared for in all storms are close to the the same like the Emergency Kits. So I will just go over Hurricane Safety and preparations here.
Hurricane Safety Before the Storm:
Hurricanes and tropical storms generally can be tracked days ahead of any impact, providing ample time to prepare for a potential evacuation. These storms can change direction, speed and intensity quickly, however. That makes it all the more important to make a plan to protect the people and things you value before a hurricane or tropical storm arrives.
No matter the type of severe weather, there are always three essential steps to disaster and emergency preparedness:
- Have a disaster supply kit, so you’re ready for any emergency.
- Develop a plan for what you and your family will do before disaster strikes.
- Stay informed during severe weather.
If You live in an evacuation or Flood Prone area:
- Make an evacuation plan if you live in an area vulnerable to storm surge or flooding.
- Identify the evacuation route you will use if you are told to evacuate.
- Research alternate routes, if possible.
- Have current paper (hard-copy) maps on hand. (Don’t rely only on smartphones and mobile devices, as cellular networks may be down in your area during a storm.)
- Alert friends and family members of your route and destination.
- Fill your gas tank before the storm. Power outages can shut down gas stations.
- Determine the nearest low-rise building outside of flood zones where you can evacuate an official public shelter, a hotel, or a friend’s or relative’s home.
- Find out if where you’re going will accept pets.
Hurricane Safety During the Storm:
If a watch is issued:
- Fill your vehicles with gas.
- Get extra cash.
- Fill prescriptions.
- For mobile homes, secure tie-downs and prepare to evacuate when ordered.
- Bring in loose objects from outside.
If a warning is issued:
- Secure all windows with shutters or plywood.
- Place valuables and important papers in a waterproof container and store them on the highest floor of your home.
If you are advised or ordered to evacuate:
- Follow all directions and orders from local officials, and leave immediately when instructed to do so.
- Bring emergency supplies, including a first aid kit, medicines, food, water, formula and diapers, toiletries, cell phones, radios, and batteries.
- Bring extra cash and copies of important papers such as insurance policies.
- Bring blankets, sleeping bags, books, and games.
- Unplug appliances, turn off utilities such as electricity and the main water valve.
- Lock the windows and doors of your home.
If you are not told to evacuate:
- Stay at home! Leave the roads available for those who must evacuate.
- Clean your bathtub with bleach and fill it with water for washing and flushing (not drinking).
- Set your refrigerator to maximum cold and keep it closed.
- Turn off your utilities if told to do so by local officials.
During the storm:
- Go to an interior room and stay away from windows and doors, even though they’re covered.
- During very strong winds, lie under something sturdy.
- Do not go outside, including during passage of the eye of the hurricane.
- Do NOT go outside to take video and pictures. Leave that to the professionals.
Hurricane Safety Afterwards:
- Wait until authorities announce it is safe before attempting to return home.
- Know that first responders may be delayed in reaching your community or impacted area for a prolonged period.
- Avoid roads covered by water and/or debris, and avoid downed power lines.
- Bring necessities, such as food and water, with you when you return.
- Only use a generator in a well-ventilated area and adhere to all manufacturer instructions.
- Use flashlights instead of candles.
- Check food in your refrigerator for spoilage, but keep any water. It may be some time before you can rely on the quality of tap water.
- Keep children and pets inside. If pets must be walked outside, keep them on a leash.
- Watch for snakes and other animals possibly forced into your home by flood waters.
- Wear sturdy shoes and protective clothing during any cleaning. Have a professional check for structural damage to your home, as well as the quality of service from your water, gas, electric, and sewer lines.
- Contact your insurance company to begin the claims process.
With most storms comes the chance for Flash Flooding, and flooding.
- Do not drive through standing water on the road. A few inches of water can stall out your car.
- If your basement has flooded. Make sure you wear long rubber boots that cover your legs to help in case of any electrical problems caused by the flooding.
- If you are stuck in your car and it is flooding. Break your window, and get your self free before helping anyone else in your car. There is a better chance of survival this way.
This is all I have for now. If you have ANY Tips or questions you would like to add or ask leave it in the comment section for our other fans to see.
I hope this has been informative for you, and will help you & your family be me aware and prepared for sever weather.
*Some of the information I have provided was from a local meteorologist at Lebanon County Weather.