How to keep safe this severe weather season

By Sam Pudelski, Red Cross volunteer

Now that it’s spring, the storms that come along with the season and summer months also arrive. While many rainy days are part of the season, Northeast Ohio usually experiences several severe weather events throughout the year. The American Red Cross has tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe when severe weather strikes.

Severe Weather Safety

If thunderstorms are likely to occur, postpone outdoor activities. Many people who are struck by lightning aren’t in the area of a storm where it is raining.

Watch for storm signs – these can include darkening skies, lightning and increasing wind. If thunder roars, head indoors! If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger of being stuck by lightning.

If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued for your area and arrives:
– Take shelter in a substantial building. If you aren’t near a building, shelter in a vehicle with the windows closed. Make sure to get out of mobile homes, as they can blow over in high winds.
– If you’re driving, make your way to safely exit the road and park. Stay in your vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers so other cars on the road can see you until any heavy rain ends.
If you are outside and are unable to seek shelter inside of a safe building or vehicle, avoid high ground, water, tall or isolated trees and metal objects, such as fences and bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts, sheds and pavilions are not considered safe shelters.
Keep away from windows.
Don’t take a bath, shower, wash dishes or use plumbing.

If a tornado warning is issued for your area:
– Move to an underground shelter, basement or safe room. If none of these are available to you, moving to a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
Note: No area of a mobile home is safe during a tornado. If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, move to this immediately.
– If you are able to, go to the nearest local emergency shelter.

Superstorm Sandy 2012 November 5, 2012. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross

If someone is struck by lightning:
– Call for help immediately. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Anyone who has been struck by lightning requires professional medical care. Check the person for burns and other inquiries.
– If the person has stopped breathing, call 9-1-1 and begin CPR. If the person is breathing normally, look for other possible injuries and care for them as necessary.
– People who have been struck by lightning do not retain an electrical charge in their body.

Flooding Safety
Flooding often occurs following a hurricane, thawing snow or several days of sustained rain. Flash floods, on the other hand, occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream, body of water or low-lying area.

If there is a flood risk in your area:
– Listen to local radio, NOAA or TV news stations for the latest updates and information about weather in your area.
– Be prepared to evacuate quickly if you need to evacuate. Know your routes and destinations ahead of time. Find a local emergency shelter.
– Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or that are in short supply, such as medical supplies and medications.

If you have pets or livestock:

  • Consider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially any
    large or numerous animals. Waiting until the last minute could be
    fatal for them and dangerous for you.
  • Where possible, move livestock to higher ground. If using a horse or
    other trailer to evacuate your animals, move sooner rather than later.
  • Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of
    them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of
    evacuation.

For more information on how to prepare and respond in a severe weather emergency, visit redcross.org.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

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