With severe weather possibilities across parts of the state over the next three days, we wanted to share a few reminders on severe weather safety! Planning is key…everyone knowing what to do, what action to take no matter whether you are at home, work, school or even out and about…is the key to surviving any type of severe weather impact. We thought we’d break these down into the following categories…home, school, work, out and about. Some are the same throughout, but a few may be unique to certain locations and will hopefully provide a few new ideas for you to discuss with your family.
Home: Prepare a severe weather safety kit. There’s a gazillion things that could be useful…and feel free to add your own ideas…but some basics would be a flashlight with fresh batteries, a NOAA weather Radio with fresh batteries, a first aid kit, blankets or towels, helmets to help protect your head from flying debris, a list of important phone numbers (doctors, insurance, family, etc.), water, non-perishable snacks, a whistle to call out for help, old shoes and jackets, Diapers and wipes if you have an infant, critical medications if you can spare a few for your kit, and hand sanitizer. Those are just a few of the basic things you’ll need to put together. Putting the kit together ahead of time is a good idea. The kit can be in a plastic tub or whatever will fit into your home’s safe area. Speaking of safe areas…designate one in your house. A basement is best…but rarely do we have those in Texas…so the next best alternative is an interior room, stairwell, closet or bathroom on the lowest floor in the house that does not have windows or doors that open to the outside. If you live in an apartment complex, talk to the manager to see if there’s a community shelter area available. If not, talk with a downstairs resident to see if they would be willing to offer shelter. If that won’t work, consider driving to a safe area BEFORE severe weather hits. Only do that last one if it’s an extreme emergency because being out on the road in severe weather has its own issues. Talk to your family about home severe weather safety plan. Everyone needs to know where to go and how to get there quickly. Make sure everyone can fit in that closet or bathroom. Have practice drills. Don’t forget about your pets either! A dog or cat carrier placed in the safe area will help protect the “furpeople” in your life as well. One additional thought, be sure to monitor your local TV or radio stations on severe weather days.
School: Most school districts have a weather safety plan in place and will be willing to share those plans with you. Call your child’s school and ask if they have a plan, how do they receive notifications that severe weather is imminent, who makes the decision to send the kids to shelter, where is the shelter, do they have weather safety drills and what are the students instructed to go? Those are all extremely important to know. Schools should have a NOAA Weather Radio with fresh batteries turned on at all times in their office during storm season. They should not be simply relying on a phone call from someone else to tell them to send the children into shelter. Since most severe weather events happen during the afternoon hours…usually from about 2pm on…how will bussing be affected by local threats of severe weather. Those are all important pieces of information you’ll need to have so you can know what severe weather action plan to expect at your child’s school.
Work: Pretty much the same goes for safety at your work if you’re in an office building. Have a way to receive warnings on your own and don’t just rely on management or security to let you know it’s time to seek shelter. Know where the best shelter places are in your office building. The obvious…away from exterior doors and windows…typically an interior bathroom, hallway, stairwell or underground parking garage that’s at least one story below ground. Stay away from open glass atriums and stay out of the elevators. Keep a flashlight at your desk if possible. Locate your businesses’ first aid kit. If your company does not have one, encourage management to purchase one and keep it in or near the designated shelter area. If you work outdoors, stay informed of the severe weather outlook for your location and try to identify safe places before hand that you could walk or drive to quickly…or go to wherever your company has predesignated.
Out and About: This is probably the most dangerous place to be during severe weather. If you know dangerous weather is expected in your area, it’s best to stay home and shelter in place where you can monitor the latest conditions on TV and/or radio. If you have no choice but to be out, then keep on top of the latest by monitoring local radio stations. Don’t expect satellite radio to provide you with local weather alerts! Think ahead about what you’d do and where you might go to seek shelter. If you find yourself frequenting certain places along your afternoon route each day, ask them where they are told to seek shelter and keep that in the back of your mind. Sounds like overkill, but in an emergency, it might be the one thing that helps you get to shelter faster because you knew that place had an interior bathroom with cement walls and a solid ceiling.
On your Cell Phone: Unless you’ve opted out, Tornado Warnings and other extreme weather emergency text messages are pushed out to you on your cell phone based on your GPS location via the Wireless Emergency Alert system. To read more about these WEA system messages, visit the link below:
I hope this has given you some ideas to discuss with your family as we prepare for this week’s severe weather events! Below are some links to additional severe weather safety information provided by NOAA and also a printable severe weather safety document.
NOAA Severe Weather Safety Site:
NOAA Severe Weather Safety Tips printable document: