Spring/Summer Seasonal Preparedness

View our Severe Weather Preparedness Guide here!

Floods

Flooding is the nation's most common natural disaster. Flooding can happen in every U.S. state and territory. However, all floods are not alike. Some can develop slowly during an extended period of rain, or in a warming trend following a heavy snow. Others, such as flash floods, can occur quickly, even without any visible signs of rain. Be prepared for flooding no matter where you live, but particularly if you are in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding.

Prepare for Flooding

  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
  • Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.
  • Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage.
  • Get a kit of emergency supplies and prepare a portable kit in case you have to evacuate.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a thunderstorm hazard, including understanding the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a severe thunderstorm warning.
  • A flood watch or flash flood warning means there is a possibility of flooding or a flash flood in your area.

Be Prepared to Evacuate

  • If time allows, bring in outside furniture and move your valuables to higher places in your home. Unplug electrical appliances, moving them to higher levels, if possible. However, do not touch an electric appliance if you are wet or standing in water.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to evacuate.
  • A flood warning means a flood is occurring or will likely occur soon. If you are advised to evacuate do so immediately.
  • A flash flood warning means a flash flood is occurring. Seek higher ground immediately; do not wait for instructions.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.

Plan to Evacuate

  • Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
  • If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.
  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
  • Identify several places you could go in an emergency, a friend's home in another town, a motel or public shelter.
  • If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
  • Take your emergency supply kit.
  • Lock the door behind you.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for information.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
  • Call or email the "out-of-state" contact in your family communications plan.
  • Tell them where you are going.
  • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
  • Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
  • Do not walk through moving water, if possible. Look for areas where the water is not moving. What might seem like a small amount of moving water can easily knock you down.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If your vehicle becomes surrounded by rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground, if possible.

Stay Informed

  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • If it has been raining hard for several hours or if it has been raining steadily for days there may be the potential for flooding. Use common sense and available information. If water is rising quickly or you see a moving wall of mud or debris, immediately move to higher ground.
  • Stay out of flood waters, if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, should you find yourself trapped in your vehicle in rising water get out immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.
  • Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after flood waters recede, roads may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated.
  • Use common sense and exercise caution.

For more information on how you can be prepared for a flood, visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/.

 

Tornadoes

Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms.  They can appear suddenly, without warning, and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears.  Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival.  Be prepared to act quickly.  Keep in mind that while tornadoes are more common in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, they can occur in any state and at any time of the year, making advance preparation vitally important.

Prepare for a Tornado

  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a tornado hazard.
  • A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area.  You should monitor NOAA Weather Radio local radio and television news outlets for the latest developments.
  • A tornado warning is when a tornado is actually occurring, take shelter immediately.
  • Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.
  • Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
  • If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.  In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.  Go to the center of the room.  Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
  • A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection.  Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
  • If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area.  Do not get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Plan to stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
  • Get a kit of emergency supplies. Store it in your shelter location.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.

Plan to Take Shelter

  • If local authorities issue a tornado warning or if you see a funnel cloud.  Take shelter immediately.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do.  However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.

Stay Informed

  • After a tornado be sure to remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines.
  • Help injured or trapped people.  Check on others who may require special assistance, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do.  However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.

For more information go to: http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes

 

Thunderstorms

In the United States lightning kills 300 people and injures 80 on average, each year. All thunderstorms produce lightning and all have the potential for danger. Those dangers can include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, wildfires and flash flooding, which is responsible for more fatalities than any other thunderstorm-related hazard.

Lightning's risk to individuals and property is increased because of its unpredictability. It often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.

Preparing for a Thunderstorm and Lightning

  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a thunderstorm hazard, including understanding the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a severe thunderstorm warning.
  • A Thunderstorm watch means there is a possibility of a thunderstorm in your area.
  • A Thunderstorm warning means a thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon. If you are advised to take shelter so immediately.
  • Get an emergency supply kit.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Use the 30/30 lightning safety rule. If you see lightning and you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder, go indoors. Then stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.

Have a Thunderstorm Plan

  • If a thunderstorm is likely in your area, postpone outdoor activities.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades, or curtains.
  • Avoid showering or bathing during a thunderstorm. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Watch for darkening skies, lightning, increasing winds.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for information.
  • Go quickly inside a home, building, or hard top automobile, if possible.
  • If shelter is not available go to the lowest area nearby and make yourself the smallest target possible but do not lie flat on the ground.
  • If on open water, get to land and shelter immediately.
  • Things to avoid include:
  • Tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Hilltops, open fields, the beach, a boat on the water, isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Anything metal - tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.

Stay Informed

  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to your battery operated or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • Do not use electrical items such as computers or television sets as power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • A corded telephone should only be used in an emergency, but cordless phones and cell phones are safe to use.

For more information about NOAA Weather Radio visit http://www.ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning

 

Home Fires

Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and more than 20,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented. Direct property loss due to fires is estimated at $10 billion annually.

  • To protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire.
  • Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.
  • Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs.

Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

Take Protective Measures

  • Before a Fire
    • Install smoke alarms. Properly working smoke alarms decrease your chances of dying in a fire by half.
    • Place smoke alarms on every level of your residence. Place them outside bedrooms on the ceiling or high on the wall (4 to 12 inches from ceiling), at the top of open stairways, or at the bottom of enclosed stairs and near (but not in) the kitchen.
    • Test and clean smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries at least once a year. Replace smoke alarms once every 10 years.
  • Planning Your Escape
    • Review escape routes with your family. Practice escaping from each room.
    • Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut. Make sure security gratings on windows have a fire safety opening feature so they can be easily opened from the inside.
    • Consider escape ladders if your residence has more than one level, and ensure that burglar bars and other antitheft mechanisms that block outside window entry are easily opened from the inside.
    • Teach family members to stay low to the floor (where the air is safer in a fire) when escaping from a fire.
  • Preventing Fire
    • Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. It is also the leading cause of fire injuries.
    • Deaths due to fires caused by cooking are particularly preventable.
    • Never leave cooking unattended. A serious fire can start in just seconds.
    • Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
    • Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames and heating elements.
    • Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.
    • If a fire breaks out while cooking, put a lid on the pan to smother it. Never throw water on a grease fire.
    • Heat oil gradually to avoid burns from spattering grease. Use extra caution when preparing deep-fried foods.
    • Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
    • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all small appliances are turned off.
  • Flammable Items
    • Never use gasoline, benzine, naptha, or similar flammable liquids indoors.
    • Store flammable liquids in approved containers in well-ventilated storage areas.
    • Never smoke near flammable liquids.
    • Discard all rags or materials that have been soaked in flammable liquids after you have used them. Safely discard them outdoors in a metal container.
    • Insulate chimneys and place spark arresters on top. The chimney should be at least three feet higher than the roof. Remove branches hanging above and around the chimney.
  • Heating Sources
    • Be careful when using alternative heating sources.
    • Check with your local fire department on the legality of using kerosene heaters in your community. Be sure to fill kerosene heaters outside, and be sure they have cooled.
    • Place heaters at least three feet away from flammable materials. Make sure the floor and nearby walls are properly insulated.
    • Use only the type of fuel designated for your unit and follow manufacturer's instructions.
    • Store ashes in a metal container outside and away from your residence.
    • Keep open flames away from walls, furniture, drapery, and flammable items.
    • Keep a screen in front of the fireplace.
    • Have heating units inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.
  • Matches and Smoking
    • Keep matches and lighters up high, away from children, and, if possible, in a locked cabinet.
    • Never smoke in bed or when drowsy or medicated. Provide smokers with deep, sturdy ashtrays. Douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.
  • Electrical Wiring
    • Have the electrical wiring in your residence checked by an electrician.
    • Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.
    • Make sure outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
    • Make sure wiring does not run under rugs, over nails, or across high-traffic areas.
    • Do not overload extension cords or outlets. If you need to plug in two or three appliances, get a UL-approved unit with built-in circuit breakers to prevent sparks and short circuits.
    • Make sure insulation does not touch bare electrical wiring.
  • Other
    • Sleep with your door closed.
    • Install A-B-C-type fire extinguishers in your residence and teach family members how to use them.
    • Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your residence.
    • Ask your local fire department to inspect your residence for fire safety and prevention.

During a Fire

  • To Escape a Fire, You Should:
    • Check closed doors for heat before you open them. If you are escaping through a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame before you open it. Never use the palm of your hand or fingers to test for heat - burning those areas could impair your ability to escape a fire (i.e., ladders and crawling).
  • Hot Door
    • Do not open. Escape through a window. If you cannot escape, hang a white or light-colored sheet outside the window, alerting fire fighters to your presence.
  • Cool Door
    • Open slowly and ensure fire and/or smoke is not blocking your escape route. If your escape route is blocked, shut the door immediately and use an alternate escape route, such as a window. If clear, leave immediately through the door and close it behind you. Be prepared to crawl. Smoke and heat rise. The air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
    • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
    • Close doors behind you as you escape to delay the spread of the fire.
    • Stay out once you are safely out. Do not reenter. Call 9-1-1.

After a Fire

The following are guidelines for different circumstances in the period following a fire:

  • If you are with burn victims, or are a burn victim yourself, call 9-1-1; cool and cover burns to reduce chance of further injury or infection.
  • If you detect heat or smoke when entering a damaged building, evacuate immediately.
  • If you are a tenant, contact the landlord.
  • If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames.
  • If you must leave your home because a building inspector says the building is unsafe, ask someone you trust to watch the property during your absence.

If you require more information about any of these topics, visit the U.S. Fire Administration's website at: http://www.usfa.fema.gov

 

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