Every year, southern states are usually hit the hardest when it comes to spring storms and tornadoes. But severe (unpredictable) weather can strike in any area of the country.
According to www.weather.gov, an average of 21 tornadoes touch down in Kentucky each year. If the warning sirens blared out today, would you know what to do to keep you and your family safe? Do you have an emergency plan in place?
Besides tornadoes, other dangers of a spring storm include lightning, hail, flash flooding, and high damaging winds. Lightning strikes are one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. If the sky looks threatening, people should seek shelter even before they hear thunder. Lightning can strike as far as ten miles away from an area that’s experiencing a storm.
When it comes to flash flooding, remember “Turn around – don’t drown!” Always avoid walking or driving through high water. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of water can sweep your vehicle away. If you know there’s a chance of flash flooding, move to higher ground immediately.
Powerful thunderstorms can spawn tornadoes – nature’s most violent weather event. Greenish skies and low, dark clouds (especially if rotating) are signs that a tornado could form at any second, with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour (emitting a loud roar that sounds very much like a freight train). Damage paths can be more than a mile wide and fifty miles long.
Many tornado fatalities occur at night when people are asleep. For that reason alone, it’s a good idea to have a weather radio that broadcasts alerts when severe weather is happening.
Here are some other important safety tips:
- Know the terms: WATCH means a tornado is possible. WARNING means a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.
- Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room away from windows, and go there immediately if you hear or see a tornado - or if you hear sirens blaring.
- If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.
- If you are outdoors, and there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.
- Following a storm, wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking on or near debris, and be aware of exposed nails and broken glass.
- Be aware of damaged power or gas lines and electrical systems that may cause fires, electrocution or explosions.
Where should you go during severe weather?
- At home: Go to the basement. Under a staircase or in a bathroom or closet could also provide safety.
- At work: Go to the basement if there is one. Stairwells, bathrooms and closets are other acceptable choices. As a last resort, crawl under your desk.
- At school: Seek shelter in inside hallways, small closets and bathrooms. Get out of mobile classrooms, gymnasiums, auditoriums and other rooms with a large expanse of roof. Bus drivers should be alert for bad weather on their routes.
- In stores: Seek shelter against an inside wall. An enclosed hallway or fire exit leading away from the main mall concourse is a good spot. Stay away from skylights and large open areas.
- Outside: Find the nearest sturdy shelter or seek shelter in a ditch or low-lying area, and cover your head with your hands. DO NOT get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location. Watch out for flying debris.
- In a car: Never try to outrun a tornado. Pull over, and seek shelter in a building or a low-lying ditch.
Hopefully, if you follow the aforementioned tips, you will stay safe during the spring storm season.