Severe Thunderstorm & Tornado Safety: What You Need to Know

The heat and humidity of summer provide the ideal conditions for severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes.  The storm that rolled across Minnesota and Wisconsin on Saturday reminds us of the importance of being prepared in the face of severe weather.

Creating Your Severe Weather Preparedness Plan

Predetermine a safe place in your home where you and your family will go in the event of severe weather and discuss the plan with your family.  You should choose an area that is located at the lowest level of your home like the basement or a crawl space.  If you don’t have a basement, choose a room or closet away from windows or skylights.  Try to find a place at the center of the structure.  The more walls between you and the elements the better.  In a pinch, a bathtub can offer slight protection.  Crouch with your face down, and cover your head.

Materials you may consider gathering:

  • Keep flashlights (and batteries) and candles (and matches) handy should the electricity go down.  Be sure to exercise caution around open flames.
  • A weather radio that runs on batteries will keep you up to date on the latest weather information and alerts.
  • Keep your cell phone charged and easily accessible should you need to call for help.  It’s not a bad idea to have bottled water available.  It is possible for the water system to become contaminated after a tornado.
  • Have a blanket to cover your head and shield yourself from flying glass and other debris.

What to do During Severe Weather

Before the storm, monitor severe weather by watching the news or by listening to the radio.  Do not talk on your corded phone.  Unplug electrical equipment in case of a lightning strike before the storm arrives.  It is too risky to do this once lightning is occurring.

Once the situation is upgraded from a tornado or severe thunderstorm Watch to a Warning it means that these conditions are occurring or will occur shortly in your area.   Gather your family and pets and seek shelter in your predetermined safe place, especially if you hear your community’s public warning system or sirens.

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