By Abby Berry
Storm season is officially here, but hurricanes aren’t the only storms that pose serious risks. Many summer storms—even hurricanes—have the potential to produce tornadoes. They can happen anytime, anywhere, bringing winds topping 200 mph.
In April, a video of NBC Washington Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer went viral. During a live broadcast, Doug called his teenage son to warn him of a tornado that was headed straight for their home.
Knowing the kids were likely playing video games and not paying attention to the weather, he told them to head straight to the basement.
Doug debated calling his family on-air, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Luckily, the kids made it safely through the storm.
As adults, we understand the importance of storm safety, but younger children and teens may not realize the dangers storms pose. That’s why it is so important to talk to your family and have a storm plan in place. Here are several tips you can share with your loved ones.
Before the Storm
Talk to your family about what to do in the event of a severe storm or tornado. Point out the safest location to shelter— such as a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of your home. Discuss the dangers of severe thunderstorms; lightning can strike 10 miles outside of a storm. Remember: When you hear thunder roar, head indoors.
Make a storm kit. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Having a few items on hand is better than nothing at all. Try to include items such as water, nonperishable foods, a manual can opener, baby supplies, a first-aid kit, flashlights and extra batteries, prescriptions and pet supplies. Keep all the items in one place for easy access.
During the Storm
Pay attention to local weather alerts— either on the TV, your smartphone or weather radio—and understand the types of alerts. A thunderstorm or tornado watch means these events are possible, and you should be prepared. A warning means a thunderstorm or tornado has been spotted in your area, and it’s time to take action.
If you find yourself in the path of a tornado, head to your safe place to shelter. Protect yourself by covering your head with your arms or materials such as blankets and pillows.
If you are driving during a severe storm or tornado, do not try to outrun it. Pull over and cover your body with a coat or blanket if possible.
After the Storm
If the power is out, conserve your phone battery as much as possible, limiting calls and texts to let others know you are safe or for emergencies only.
Stay off the roads if trees, power lines or utility poles are down. Lines and equipment could still be energized, posing life-threatening risks to anyone who gets too close.
Wear appropriate gear if you are cleaning up storm debris on your property. Thick-soled shoes, long pants and work gloves will help protect you from sharp or dangerous debris left behind.
Summer is a time for many fun-filled activities, but the season also can bring severe, dangerous weather. Talk to your loved ones about storm safety so everyone is prepared and knows exactly what to do when a storm strikes.
Practice Storm Safety
- Have a plan in place and make a storm kit
- Listen to local alerts and know where to shelter
- Stay off the roads if trees and power lines are down