Every year, thousands of people are impacted by severe weather and natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, floods, hurricanes, and ice or snow storms. We can’t control when or where disaster will strike, however, we can be prepared by knowing what to do before, during, and after a severe weather event.
Before: Plan ahead! Keep an Emergency Supply Kit (Ready.gov) that includes non-perishable food, water, flashlight, radio, and batteries. Create an Emergency Plan (Ready.gov) so that everyone knows what to do in an emergency. Know where the shelter areas are at home and at work. Review your emergency evacuation routes and shelter areas so that you know where to go when an alarm is sounded. Know how to Shut Off Utilities (Ready.gov), such as power, gas, and water. Have a fire extinguisher handy; make sure everyone knows how to use it. Plan ahead!
During: Monitor Weather Forecasts (Ready.gov) and keep a lookout for darkening skies, flashes of light, and increasing wind. Close outside doors and windows, shades, and curtains. Pay close attention to building evacuation announcements and warnings to take shelter immediately when an alarm is sounded. Stay in a sheltered area until danger has passed. If there is lightning, do not use wired telephones, touch appliances, or run water. Cell phones are safe to use. Listen to a radio or television for weather updates.
After: Stay off of the roads to allow passage for emergency responders; limit travel for only necessary trips. Help injured or trapped persons, but do not attempt to move anyone who is seriously injured, unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. Stay away from downed utility wires and treat them all as live wires – report downed wires to authorities. Flood waters may be contaminated, so don’t walk or wade into them, if at all possible. Note that only six inches of fast moving water can knock a person off their feet and cause drowning. Look for damage and hazards created by the storm and leave the area if you smell gas or chemical fumes.
Ready.gov provides detailed information on preparedness for all severe weather and natural disaster threats.