Severe weather can run the gamut from heavy thunderstorms, windstorms and tornadoes to floods, hailstorms and ice storms, among other potentially hazardous meteorological phenomena. Severe weather is defined as severe insofar as it poses a risk to life or property.
We have safety tips available on this site for many specific types of severe weather events. But here we offer some basic information about how to stay prepared for severe weather, along with some advice about what to do when it hits.
Planning is essential
Follow the weather forecasts in your area so that you are more likely to have time to arrange to endure the storm safely. You should also pay attention to updates during any severe weather event
It’s important to have a safety plan and rehearse it with the members of your family. Some severe weather events may require you to evacuate your home. To be prepared, it’s useful to create an evacuation plan that includes:
- designated meeting places for your family members outside of your neighborhood.
- alternate routes out of your area.
- means of transportation.
- arrangements for pets.
Maintain an emergency supply kit with items such as a battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight, a battery-operated or hand-crank radio, tools for emergency repair, food supplies, a first-aid kit, blankets and extra clothing (see below for a complete list).
Do not travel during extreme weather events unless it is absolutely necessary. Violent rain, ice, high winds, hail and floods all represent great perils for motorists. If you hear a severe weather warning, delay your travel plans until the event is over. If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and have an emergency supply kit in your car (see below).
Stock up on emergency supplies for you and your family to last at least 72 hours, just in case the storm leaves you stranded and without power. Make sure you and your family have a sufficient supply of any essential prescription medications.
Power outages can occur in extreme weather events, so be sure to have plenty of candles and flashlights on hand, along with matches and batteries.
During a power outage, protect your appliances and electronic equipment by unplugging them. Leave one light on so that you know when power has been restored and then turn on appliances and equipment one at a time to avoid power spikes.
Since mobile phones require electricity to charge, it is also useful to have easy access to a landline telephone along with a list of emergency numbers.
Emergency supply kit
Keep an emergency supply kit ready on hand. It should contain the following:
- Water (3-day supply)
- Food (3-day supply of non-perishable food that requires little or no cooking)
- Non-electric can opener
- Hand-crank flashlight
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications (3-day supply)
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
- Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
- Sand, rock salt or kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
- Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets and warm clothing for all household members
Emergency kit for your vehicle
Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your vehicle in case you become stranded. Include:
- food and water
- booster cables, flares, tire pump, and a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction)
- compass and maps
- flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries
- first-aid kit