Reprinted with permission by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Iowa Newspaper Foundation
All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightening which is one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States.
Remember the 30/30 Lightening Safety Rule: go indoors if, after seeing lightening, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thundering. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder. If you cannot get indoors, here are tips for staying safe outside:
- In an open area: Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Watch out for flash flooding.
- On open water: Get to land and find shelter immediately.
- Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightening is about to strike): Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact to the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.
Flooding happens during heavy rains, when rivers overflow, snow melts too fast or levees break. This is the most common natural weather event. Here are few tips:
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- If you’re in a car and floodwaters rise around it, get out of the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately.
- If you are at home, go to your pre-designated shelter area that you and your family determined, most likely the basement. If you do not have a basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Do not open your windows.
- If you are in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or storm shelter.
- If you are outside with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch and cover your head with your hands. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle.
TERMS TO KNOW
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to happen. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or TV for information.
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate danger to those in the path of the storm is likely and they should seek shelter.
- Flood Watch or Flashflood Watch: Flooding may happen soon. Stay tuned to the radio or TV news for more information.
- Flood Warning: You may be asked to leave the area. A flood may be happening or will be very soon.
- Flashflood Warning: A flashflood is happening. Get to high ground right away.
Sources: American Red Cross, www.ready.gov