(3/29/12) Our community is prone to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, and before our community is threatened the American Red Cross urges residents to take a few simple steps that can help save lives.
The disaster relief workers at the Scenic Bluffs Chapter of the American Red Cross work hard in this community every day to provide relief for those whose lives have been torn apart by disasters.
Red Cross volunteers provided assistance locally after the flash flooding in 2010, and also after the tornado struck in 2011. In addition, volunteers from the area were deployed to assist with flooding in North Dakota and to the East Coast after severe storms in 2011.
However, in addition to helping after a disaster, the Red Cross mission calls for the organization to play an equally important role in preparing communities BEFORE disaster strikes so that families can learn ways to stay safe when facing severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Presentations that teach people how to prepare for emergencies are available to groups, schools, and employers.
Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes and hurricanes. Heavy rain from severe thunderstorms can cause flash flooding and high winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages. Severe thunderstorm and tornado season is here, and our community has the chance right now to take some simple steps that can save lives when severe weather hits.
Taking a few moments to discuss these simple, common-sense preparedness steps with your family can save your life and the lives of the ones you love:
- Make a Home Disaster Plan: Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm or tornado. This should be on the lowest floor possible, away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail. Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home. Remove animals from vulnerable dog houses and similar small structures.
- Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a first aid kit and essential medications, food that doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries.
- Heed Severe Storm Warnings: A severe thunderstorm or tornado WATCH means severe storms are po ssible in and near the watch area. People in a watch area should keep informed and be ready to act if a severe storm warning is issued. A severe thunderstorm or tornado WARNING means severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. Seek shelter immediately in a safe room. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest building for safety. The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
- Prepare for High Winds: Remove diseased and damaged limbs from trees when the weather is clear. If storms are forecasted and you have time, secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors.
For more information on severe thunderstorm and tornado preparedness, you can contact the Scenic Bluffs Chapter of the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED CROSS or go online to www.redcross.org. We urge you to share these Red Cross severe thunderstorm and tornado preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.