The summer season is a time for warm weather and fun outdoor activities. It is also prime time for severe weather threats.
Although summer has not officially begun, many states in the U.S. have already experienced severe storms, and they continue to deal with the devastating aftermath. The top three severe weather threats this time of year are thunderstorms, tornados, and hurricanes.
Reduce the impact of these weather threats by learning about these storms, assembling an emergency supply kit, and developing an emergency plan for your family and pets.
Thunderstorms may occur as single storms, in a cluster, or in lines. They are characterized by thunder, lightning, strong winds, heavy rain, and hail. Most thunderstorms produce heavy rain for a brief period, from 30 minutes to an hour, and wind speed can reach up to 100 miles per hour. Flash floods cause more fatalities than any other storm hazard and are the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.
Remember these tips to stay safe during and after a thunderstorm:
- Stay indoors and keep pets indoors
- Secure outdoor objects
- Unplug electronic equipment
- Stay away from windows and doors
- Never drive through a flooded roadway
- Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately
A tornado is one of the most dangerous storms you could ever encounter. It is a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. A tornado strikes quickly, with little or no warning, and can cause fatalities and catastrophic damage in seconds. Funnel wind speeds reach up to 300 miles per hour. The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 miles per hour, but it can range from stationary to 70 mph.
Tornados hit quickly, so stay alert to changing weather conditions and create an evacuation or shelter plan. Look for danger signs including a dark, sometimes greenish sky, large hail, a large, dark, low-lying cloud, and a loud roar.
If you are in a residence, small building, school, hospital, or multi-level building:
- Go to a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level
- Put as many walls as possible between you and outside; go to the center of an interior room or hallway
- Get under a sturdy table and protect your head and neck
- Put on sturdy shoes
If you are in a trailer or mobile home:
- Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
If you are outside with no shelter:
- Get inside a vehicle, buckle your seat belt, and drive to the closest shelter
- Stay aware of flying debris
- Pull over and park if vehicle is hit by flying debris; stay in vehicle with seatbelt on
- Do not park under an overpass or bridge
- Never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle in urban or congested areas
Hurricanes are tropical storms or cyclones originating in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and eastern Pacific Ocean. Wind speeds can surpass 155 miles per hour and sometimes produce tornadoes and storm surges. The heavy rainfall from a hurricane can also trigger landslides, mud slides, or flash floods.
The Atlantic hurricane season is from June to late November, with the peak season from mid August to late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season is from mid May to late November.
Follow these tips to stay safe during a hurricane:
- Learn evacuation routes
- Cover your home’s windows with storm shutters or plywood
- Reinforce garage doors and secure outdoor objects
- Turn off propane tanks
- Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level
- Avoid elevators if you are in a multi-level building
- Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges
- Stay away from downed or dangling power lines and report them immediately
- Keep your pets indoors and watch out for wild animals
- Wear protective clothing in case you need to evacuate
If severe weather strikes your area, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity. Keep a stocked emergency supply kit to help you cope with a disaster whether or not you are at home.
Store at least a three-day supply of food and water per person for evacuation scenarios and a two-week supply of food and water per person for staying at home. Make sure any special needs of all household members are covered, including infants, seniors, and pets.
Assemble the following items in easy-to-carry containers for use at home, office, school, and in a vehicle. You can also purchase pre-assembled kits like the one pictured above.
- Water: one gallon per person, per day
- Food: nonperishable, easy-to-prepare items
- Manual can opener
- Mobile phone and chargers
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio
- Two-way radios
- Extra batteries
- Multi-purpose tool
- First aid kit
- Seven-day supply of medications and medical items
- Personal hygiene items
- Extra blankets and towels
- Change of clothes and extra shoes
- Rain gear
- Surgical masks
- Trash bags
- Copies of personal documents: IDs, medical information, insurance policies
- Family and emergency contact information
- Baby supplies
- Games, books, and other entertainment activities
- Extra set of car and house keys
- Extra cash
Additional supplies for storm prep and clean up:
- Rain gear
- Work gloves
- Tools: hammer, nails, saw, wire cutter
- Sand bags
- Duct tape
- Household liquid bleach
Supplies for Pets:
- Food and water for at least three days
- Food and water bowls
- Litter and litter box
- Grooming items
- Medications and medical records
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses, or carriers
- Pet toys and bed/bedding
- Current photos and descriptions of pets
- Feeding schedule
- Veterinarian contact information
Have a wonderful, adventurous summer but stay safe and be prepared!