Spring can bring devastating weather

Spring can be a time for devastating weather. It’s the peak time of year for tornadoes, flooding, thunderstorms and other severe weather.
The American Red Cross wants you to know what steps you can take to stay safe if dangerous weather is predicted for your community.

PREPARE

  • Download the free Red Cross Emergency App. Available in English and Spanish, the app features expert advice on how to prepare and respond to tornadoes, floods and other disasters. It also features real-time local alerts for severe weather and hazards and a map with local Red Cross shelters open when a major disaster happens. You can text GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or search “Red Cross Emergency” in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Get a Kit. Make a Plan. Be informed. Use Be Red Cross Ready tips in English or Spanish. If you or a member of your household is an individual with access or functional needs, including a disability, consider developing a comprehensive evacuation plan in advance with family, care providers and care attendants, as appropriate. Complete a personal assessment of functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation, and create a personal support network to assist. A great resource is FEMA’s online landing page for people with disabilities.

TORNADO SAFETY

  • Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
  • Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately underground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
  • During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
  • Know your community’s warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornadoes, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
  • Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.

Click here for more tornado safety tips.

THUNDERSTORM SAFETY

  • Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
  • Do not take a bath or shower or use plumbing.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

Click here for more severe thunderstorm safety steps. 

FLOOD SAFETY

  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Stay away from floodwaters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and less than 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

Click here for more flood safety tips.

Do you have and use a weather radio?

The Red Cross is providing food, shelter, and emotional support to people affected by Wednesday's tornadoes that swept across the South and Midwest, including southern Missouri (pictured here). Photo Credit: Nigel Holderby/American Red Cross

Following the devastating tornadoes that swept across the Midwest and South early Wednesday morning, we urge you, your family, and your friends to take a moment or two now and prepare for what’s turning out to be an early tornado season. 

  • Pick a safe place in your home or apartment building, such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room with no windows, where household members and pets can gather.
  • Use a weather radio that broadcasts National Weather Service watches and warnings. A weather radio can alert you to storms during the night, helping to save your life or the lives of your loved ones. Learn more in this NPR story.
  • Watch for tornado warning signs such as dark, greenish clouds, large hail, a roaring noise, a cloud of debris or funnel clouds. Secure outside items such as lawn furniture or trash cans, which could be picked up by the wind and injure someone.
  • If a tornado watch is issued, it means tornadoes are possible and you should be ready to act quickly. If a tornado warning is issued, it means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar and you should go underground immediately to a basement or storm cellar or to an interior room such as a bathroom or closet.
  • If a tornado warning is issued and you are outside,  you should hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. If you cannot get to a building, you should get in a vehicle, buckle in, and drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, you should pull over and stay in the car with the seat belt on and your head below the window, covering your head with a blanket or other available protection.
  • If you do not not have a vehicle, you should find ground lower than the surface of the roadway and cover your head with your hands.

You can help those affected by disasters like the Midwest tornadoes and storms, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Consider making a donation today by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or sending a text with the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Contributions enable the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.