The majority of the U.S. is at risk for severe weather, which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Torrential rains and flooding, and lightning can all wreak havoc on our daily schedules. Preparing before a disaster strikes and knowing what to do during and after a storm will help ensure you and your family greatly reduce your risk for injury and damage to your home.
A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding, and high winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages.
Every year people are killed or seriously injured by severe thunderstorms despite advance warnings. While some did not hear the warning, others heard the warning and did not pay attention to it.
Know the Difference
Severe Thunderstorm Watch – Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning – Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property.
Here are some recommendations that the Red Cross and National Weather Service encourage everyone to follow.
- Learn about your local community’s emergency warning system for severe thunderstorms
- Discuss thunderstorm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household
- 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
- Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a severe thunderstorm
- Make trees and shrubbery more wind resistant by keeping them trimmed and removing damaged branches
- Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home
- Consult your local fire department if you are considering installing lightning rods
- Get trained in first aid and learn how to respond to emergencies
- Put together an emergency preparedness kit