Spring usually brings severe and unsettled weather, and Thursday is no exception. But the key is being prepared.
The American Red Cross urges residents to take steps now to be prepared when severe weather threatens.
As with any disaster, having a plan can be the difference between life and death.
The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for severe thunderstorms by:
• Heed Storm Warnings: Know what each warning means.
A severe storm WATCH means severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. People in a watch area should keep informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued.
A severe storm WARNING means severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar.
Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property.
If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. Seek shelter immediately.
The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
"By preparing together for severe thunderstorms, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger," Peter M. Brown, regional Red Cross CEO said. "We can help you and your family create a disaster preparedness plan now, before our community is threatened by high winds, hail, lightning and excessive rainfall."
• Prepare for high winds: If you have time, secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind.
• Prepare for power outages: Take extra care in using portable generators to avoid fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Put together an emergency preparedness kit that includes non-perishable foods and water, a flashlight, battery powered radio, first aid kit, medicines, supplies for infants and supplies for pets.
More power outage safety tips can be found at www.redcross.org/prepare.
• Be alert for flooding. Our area is especially prone to flooding during and following severe storms.
When driving, do not drive through water on the roadway. "Turn around. Don't drown."
Check for more flood safety tips
• Make a home disaster plan: Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail. Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home. Remove animals from vulnerable dog houses and similar small structures.
• Create an emergency preparedness kit: Pack a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries.
• Download the free Red Cross tornado app and follow its safety tips.
This free app—available in English or Spanish—gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado.
The app includes a high-pitched siren and "tornado warning!" alert that signals people when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area – even if the app is closed.
An "all clear!" alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.