6 Severe Weather Safety Tips

Wizard of OzHearing a tornado siren go off should not be your cue to begin your home storm preparation. That process should begin today, if it hasn’t already.

Keep supplies handy

If a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning hits, having the following items on hand can keep you and yours safe and prepared:
  • Wind-up flashlight (can usually be found in camping supplies at a department store).
  • Wind-up radio (same).
  • Battery-powered flashlight with extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio w/extra batteries
  • Camping lantern
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable snacks (trail mix, dry cereal, dried fruit)
  • Cell phone
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Sleeping bags
  • Reading material
  • Games

Secure what you can

Some things, you can’t prepare for  -- such as the wind knocking a tree into your roof. Some things, you can prepare for – wind knocking out a window, for example.
  • Before a high-intensity storm, a quick preventive measure is taping an “X” on your windows with something as light as masking tape. It strengthens the integrity of the glass, and is easy to clean up after the danger has passed. Nailing down loose shingles and edging on your roof is also a must.
  • Also, if your house is the highest point in the surrounding area, you can install inexpensive metal poles or rebar on opposite corners of your house, above the roofline, to act as lightning rods. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing addition, it can save a host of damage during thunderstorms.
  • Put away all lawn furniture, toys and loose garbage in your garage.
If you find yourself in the path of an oncoming storm, know where you are going to take shelter beforehand. Hitting the panic button because you don’t know where to go is the worst plan going. If you have a storm cellar (and most people don’t), that’s obviously your go-to place in case of a tornado, severe thunderstorm or straight-line wind storm (derecho). Ditto for a basement (pick a spot in the northeast corner of the basement, if possible – tornadoes generally barrel in from the southwest). If you live in an apartment building or house with no basement, find an interior room away from glass and outside walls, if possible – probably a closet or bathroom. Drape a blanket or sleeping bag over yourself to shield you from falling debris or broken glass. Do not open windows to relieve pressure – it can make the situation worse! If you live in a mobile home, have these steps firmly in mind now that storm season has begun:
  • Do not stay in your home. Even with tie-down straps, mobile homes are like cardboard boxes in the teeth of a straight-line wind or tornado.
  • Establish a safe place that you can go in a hurry if there are serious tornado watches in the area. This could be a friend’s house, an apartment with an interior room, a church or perhaps a public building with a basement. If there’s a tornado warning posted nearby, be sure you can get to your safe spot very quickly. Otherwise, you’ll be caught in a car – and that’s worse.
  • Get Down. If you have no place else to go, find a culvert or a low spot on the ground and lie down flat, protecting your head with a firm object or your arms.
Understand that many injuries and deaths in serious storms can be avoided with the proper plan. Just make sure you have that plan ready and memorized before the storm hits – that way you won’t have to think. You just work the plan and live to tell about it. Free Disaster Planning Checklist  


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