Stay Safe This Severe Weather Season!
by Phil Hysell
While severe weather can occur any time of year, the peak severe weather season runs from late spring through summer. So, as we fast approach this potentially dangerous time of year, now is a good time to review some weather safety rules.
Flash floods and floods are the number one storm related killer across the United States. For more information on floods and flash floods please visit: www.floodsafety.noaa.gov.
If driving, DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH FLOODED AREAS! Even if it looks shallow enough to cross. The large majority of deaths due to flash flooding are due to people driving through flooded areas. Water only one foot deep can displace 1500 pounds! Two feet of water can easily carry most vehicles. Roadways concealed by floodwaters may not be intact.
If caught outside, move to higher ground immediately! Avoid small rivers or streams, low spots, culverts, or ravines. Do not try to walk through flowing water more than ankle deep, as it only takes six inches of water to knock you off your feet. Do not allow children to play around streams, drainage ditches or viaducts, storm drains, or other flooded areas.
Lightning kills more people in an average year than tornadoes. Although Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are NOT issued for lightning, you should move to shelter when thunder is heard as lightning can strike 10 to 15 miles away from where the rain is falling.
If outside, go to a safe shelter immediately, such as a sturdy building. A hard top vehicle with the windows up can also offer fair protection. If you are boating or swimming, get out of the water immediately and move to a safe shelter away from the water. During a thunderstorm you should avoid isolated trees or other tall objects, bodies or water, sheds, fences, convertible automobiles, tractors, and motorcycles. If inside, stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity or plumbing. When inside, wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder, before going out again.
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means 58 mile per hour winds or greater, or penny size hail or larger are expected. Severe Thunderstorm winds can be stronger than most tornadoes across our area. Damaging Severe Thunderstorm winds are more common than tornadoes, and can overturn mobile homes, tear roofs of homes and buildings, and can uproot trees. Therefore, it is important that you take shelter, preferably in a basement, and stay away from windows during a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.
A Tornado Warning is issued by the National Weather Service when a tornado has been sighted, or indicated by doppler radar. In a home or building, move to the basement and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. If no basement is available, move to a small interior room away from windows on the lowest floor and get under something sturdy. Mobile homes offer little protection from tornadoes. You should leave a mobile home for more sturdy shelter. Never try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead leave it immediately for safe shelter. If no shelter is nearby, lie in ditch with your head covered. Do NOT seek shelter under a highway bridge or overpass!
Heat kills by taxing the human body beyond its abilities. In a normal year, about 175 Americans succumb to the demands of summer heat. In the 40-year period from 1936 through 1975, nearly 20,000 people were killed in the United States by the effects of heat and solar radiation.
To protect yourself from the dangers of heat this summer, follow these safety tips:
Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated, or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. Dress for summer. Lightweight light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight, and helps your body maintain normal temperatures. Drink plenty of water or other non-alcohol fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat.
Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.
NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards
Perhaps the best thing you can do to prepare for the dangers of severe weather is to stay informed. The quickest method of receiving potentially life-saving National Weather Service warnings is by owning a NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards (NWR).
NWR broadcasts warnings for all types of hazards – including natural (such as tornadoes), environmental (such as chemical releases), and public safety (such as AMBER alert).
Weather Radios can be purchased at most electronic and large retail stories. They are battery powered so alerts can be received even when power is out. Most models now have the ability to program specific counties to be alerted.