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Severe Weather is on the Way: What Can I Do?

From tornadoes to thunder, hail stones to snow storms, severe weather has been in the news lately. Severe storms can take place at any time, day or night, anywhere in the country, creating hazardous conditions. Having a plan before the big one hits can help keep you, your family, your home and your possessions safe and secure.

Lightning strikes in the sky.

Don't be taken by surprise; here are some ways to prepare for severe weather.

1. Create a Disaster Plan

Sit down with your family and create a disaster plan that you all can follow. Consider that your family members may be at work, at school, at home, or out shopping when a weather event takes place, so identify safe places to take shelter. You'll want to write down directions to meeting places, important contact information for all family members, and determine how you'll get in touch with one another if cell phones or land lines aren't working.

2. Stock an Emergency Kit

When the weather is inclement, getting to the store to buy supplies can be difficult. Be prepared by stocking an emergency kit. Create your kit with supplies to last a two-week period at home, or at least three days if evacuated. The kit should include items such as:

  • Fresh water (One gallon per day, per person)
  • Non-perishable, ready-to-eat food
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Manual or battery-powered radio
  • First aid supplies and medications, both prescription and over-the counter
  • Tool kit
  • Blankets and warm clothing
  • Maps of your area
  • Cell phone and chargers
  • Copies of important documents, such as insurance policies, medical documents, birth certificates, and passports

3. Winter Storms

Prepare for winter storms by adding a few items to your emergency kit:

  • Sand for traction
  • Rock salt or other deicing substance
  • Shovels and ice scrapers
  • Heating fuel
  • Extra coats, hats, gloves and blankets

Get your home ready by insulating pipes with newspaper or insulation, and letting faucets drip just a bit to prevent freezing. Practice turning off the water valves so you can take action if a pipe freezes and bursts. During a snow storm, stay indoors and keep off the roads as much as possible.

4. Tornados and Wind

Tornados can cause wind gusts up to 200 miles per hour; these violent storms often leave destruction in their wake. Prepare for tornados by planning a safe place to take shelter, no matter where you are. Usually, this is a basement, storm cellar or an interior room with no windows, such as a bathroom.

Ensure that you know where the fire extinguisher, first-aid kits and utility switches are located before a storm hits. If you live in a tornado-prone region, it's essential to keep up with warnings; a NOAA Weather Radio is one choice. If a tornado is headed your way, immediately take shelter. Be careful of flying debris and remain in your shelter until the storm passes.

5. Thunder and Hailstorms

Severe thunderstorms are those produce hail at least one inch in diameter. Prepare your home by working with your local fire department to install lighting protection, and keeping trees in your landscape trimmed and free of dead branches.

Prepare your family by identifying a safe place in your home where you can take shelter. Ideally, this should be an interior room without windows, skylights or glass doors, says the Red Cross. Shutter your windows, and avoid touching electrical appliances or taking a bath or shower until the storm passes.

While severe weather can strike anywhere at any time, keeping up-to-date on weather warnings gives you a head start. By spending a bit of time planning, you can help keep your family and your home safe.

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