How to Prepare for Severe Weather: Safety Tips for Thunderstorms and Tornadoes

In the spring and summer, severe weather in Texas can create situations that can threaten your family’s health and safety. At times, thunderstorms and tornadoes seem to strike without warning. Besides staying informed by listening to your local news channel, there are several other precautions you can take to make sure your family is safe and prepared for unexpected weather. We’ve compiled some helpful tips to keep your family ready for when thunderstorms or tornadoes are in the forecast.

Thunderstorm Safety Tips

Where there are thunderstorms, there is lightning that can be dangerous to you and your family. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, lightning strikes the U.S. about 25 million times a year. Lightning can cause both injury and death. In fact, the administration notes that lightning travelling through the air can reach temperatures up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, about five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to lightning safety is to go and stay indoors. “There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area,” NOAA says.

Although you are safe indoors, take precaution around electrical, phone, plumbing, and television receptions systems. Lightning can travel through those structures and potentially be dangerous, NOAA notes.

Don’t forget your pets in a storm! They are in just as much risk as humans during storms. Bring your pets inside and other animals, like horses, to a shelter to protect them from lightning strikes. Plan ahead by asking a friend or neighbor to help you care for your animals in the event that you would be away from home during a storm.

If your only option is to remain outdoors during a thunderstorm, there are some steps you can take to slightly reduce your risk of being struck by lightning. NOAA says you should avoid open fields or the top of a hill. The administration also says you should stay away from tall, isolated trees, and other tall objects. Water, wet items and metal objects are good conductors of electricity, so avoid those too. Rather, go to the lowest area available and squat down in a ball-like position for your best chance of avoiding lightning strikes.

Stress these lightning safety tips to children and loved ones who enjoy outdoor activities, such as camping. You can never be too cautious when it comes to something as dangerous as lightning.

Tornado Safety Tips

Tornadoes are common in Texas, especially during the spring, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. These destructive twisters can be a threat to both property and people.

“The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room,” NOAA says. A small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the next best option. Discuss what kind of area could be safe in your home for your family. For example, a basement bathroom with no windows. It is important to quickly act and get to a safe shelter if a tornado warning is issued. Don’t waste time! Failing to act quickly could put you in a dangerous situation.

There is a chance you may find yourself away from shelter and in your car. Prepare by placing a blanket in each vehicle you own. If you are in a car and large debris is flying past you, the administration says you can either get out and get lower than the roadway or protect yourself in your car. If you decide to stay in your car, keep your seat belt on, put your head below the windows, and cover your hands with the blanket.

Staying safe from tornadoes doesn’t stop the instance a tornado ends, so don’t let your guard down after the warning is over. Always be careful when you leave your house after a storm. Downed power lines or debris could be a threat to your safety.

To keep your family safe in any weather, it’s important to stay informed about when severe weather may strike. Learn the difference between a watch and a warning to help keep you safe. A tornado watch means you should be prepared, but a tornado warning means you should take action, NOAA says. Under a warning, a tornado has been spotted or indicated by the weather radar. The same concept applies to severe thunderstorms. With a severe thunderstorm warning, it is important to take action. A thunderstorm watch means you should stay informed and be ready to act if a warning is issued.

Put your plans into action when there is a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning. These alerts should not be taken lightly. There is nothing more valuable than your health and safety.

Here are some items you should plan to have on hand during severe weather seasons:

  1. A battery-operated radio
  2. A battery-powered flashlight
  3. A three days supply of food and water
  4. A first aid kit
  5. A whistle for each family member to wear
  6. A blanket