North Central Health District

COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

Severe Weather Preparedness

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Severe Weather Preparedness

Ready for the Storm

Severe weather can strike at anytime, so all residents should be prepared for any potential weather conditions. Severe weather conditions can lead to property damage, injury and death. In addition to a basic emergency plan, individuals should have plans in place for thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes or other disaster events. Preparation is the key to staying safe in a severe weather event.

 

Awareness of Alerts and Warnings

When severe weather is approaching, make sure your disaster kit is nearby. Listen to local radio or TV stations for weather updates. Have a battery-operated radio in your house in case the power goes out. A NOAA weather radio will alert you when there are severe weather watches or warnings. Don’t forget to check the back-up battery in your weather radio on a regular basis. You will want the radio to work even if there is a power outage.

There are a variety of options for receiving weather alerts:

  • A NOAA weather radio receives watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
  • Local Emergency Management Agencies or county governments may use warning.
  • Local and national television stations broadcast weather alerts.
  • Radio stations, both AM and FM, are required to broadcast Emergency Alert System messages.
  • There are a variety of mobile applications that deliver alerts directly to your mobile device: Ready.Ga and FEMA each have their own apps.
  • Government agencies can send Wireless Emergency Alerts to mobile devices without using an app or subscription service.

Know the difference between a severe weather watch and a warning:

  • A watch means there is the potential for severe weather to affect the area in the next 6 hours.
  • A warning indicates severe weather is occurring or likely to occur soon.

Severe Weather Conditions

While a basic emergency plan can help you prepare for all weather conditions, it’s important to know how to adapt your plan to certain situations.

Thunderstorms

Before the Storm

  • Remove dead or hazardous trees or branches that could be knocked down.
  • Reschedule any outdoor plans – stay indoors.
  • Secure anything in yards or on decks/porches that may blow away.

During the Storm

  • Take shelter in a home, building or hard-top vehicle.
  • Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity, so avoid taking a shower or bath until the storm passes.
  • Avoid using electrical items like TVs and computers – power surges can cause severe damage.
  • Avoid tall trees, hills, open fields, pools, isolated structures in open fields, or anything metal (fences, bicycles, outdoor equipment, etc.).
  • Use an NOAA weather radio or tune in to local news to get updates on the storm.

After the Storm

  • Do not try to drive through flooded areas.
  • Avoid areas that have been damaged by the storm.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and contact the local power company.
Hurricanes

Before the Storm

  • Have an emergency plan and and a supply kit.
  • Secure all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations or anything that may be lifted by high winds.
  • Plan to shelter outdoor pets indoors.
  • Know your area’s flood risk.

During the Storm

  • Stay indoors and away from glass windows or doors.
  • Shelter in a central room, hallway or closet on the bottom floor.
  • If flooding occurs, take shelter on a higher floor.
  • Evacuate if directed to by authorities – follow instructions to ensure safety.
  • Listen to local news or a NOAA weather radio to receive situational updates.

After the Storm

  • Do not return to evacuated areas until notified by authorities.
  • Stay away from flooded areas – water may be electrified or contaminated.
  • Avoid downed power lines and report them to the local power company.
Tornadoes

Before the Storm

  • Establish an emergency plan and have a supply kit ready.
  • Determine where you will shelter in the event of a tornado warning – use a basement or a lowest-level interior room.
  • Learn how your community shares weather warnings and make sure you have multiple ways to get alerts.
  • Secure any loose outdoor object that may cause damage is blow away.

During the Storm

  • Seek shelter as soon as a tornado warning is issued – avoid rooms with windows or structural hazards.
  • If you are outdoors or in a mobile home, move to a sturdy building for shelter.
  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over and park with your seat belt on and you head below the windows, or exit the vehicle and lie down in a ditch lower than the road while covering your head.
  • Monitor local news or listen to a NOAA weather radio to receive weather updates.

After the Storm

  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Avoid downed power lines and report them to the local power company.
  • Check on neighbors that may require assistance.
  • Help injured or trapped people if you have training.
Floods & Flash Floods

Before Flooding

  • Know your area’s flood risk.
  • Check to see if your insurance policy covers flooding – property insurance usually does not cover flooding.
  • Have a supply kit and an emergency plan that includes and evacuation location.
  • Move furniture, electronics and other valuables to a higher floor if flooding may occur.
  • Keep important documents in a safe deposit box and copies in a waterproof container.

During Flooding

  • Monitor local news or a NOAA weather radio for flood information.
  • If an evacuation order is issued, follow instructions.
  • Do not drive around barricades or through standing or moving water.
  • Move to high ground away from bodies of water.

After Flooding

  • Do not return to evacuated areas until they have been inspected – roads, bridges and buildings may be weakened.
  • Make sure water has been tested in a flooded area before using it to cook, bathe or drink.
Extreme Heat

Before Heat

  • Check residence’s cooling system is working and insulation is properly installed.
  • Install weather stripping on windows and doors to keep cool air indoors.
  • Cover windows that receive direct sunlight.
  • Learn about the medical conditions caused by extreme heat and how to recognize and respond to them.

During Heat

  • Stay indoors in an air-conditioned room away for the sun.
  • Drink plenty of water – make sure to drink even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes and wide-brimmed hats to cover as much skin as possible.
  • Never leave children or pets in closed vehicles.
  • Limit outdoor activities to morning and evening when it is coolest and take frequent breaks.
Winter Weather

Before Winter Weather

  • Create a supply kit and have an emergency plan.
  • Make sure residence is well insulated and equipped with weather stripping.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector.
  • If you have a wood fireplace, make sure chimney is cleaned before using.
  • Have a backup heat source in case power goes out – blankets, kerosene heater, fireplace, etc.
  • Plan to bring outdoor pets inside.
  • Freeze a gallon container of water to help keep food cold in case of power outage.

During Winter Weather

  • Monitor local news or a NOAA weather radio to get weather updates.
  • Allow faucets to drip to avoid frozen pipes.
  • Practice space heater safety – use electric heaters with automatic off switches and non-glowing elements and keep heaters 3 feet away from furniture.
  • Reduce fire risk by using flashlights during power outages instead of candles.
  • Never heat your home with the oven.
  • Never bring generators, grills or camp stoves indoors.
  • Follow directions from authorities about driving during winter weather – always drive with caution.

 

Learn about our related emergency preparedness services