Severe Weather Safety Guide
Severe weather can take on many shapes and forms. Here are some safety tips you should use as threatening weather approaches:
As every Kansan knows, tornadoes can be extremely dangerous and destructive. Kansas is in the heart of "tornado alley," where these powerful forces of nature commonly strike, particularly during the peak months of April, May and June.
Preparedness and awareness are necessary to protect yourself and your family in the event that a tornado strikes in your area. You should have an emergency plan in place so that your family knows what to do in case of a tornado. Family tornado drills are a good idea to help ensure that you all know what to do.
Your family disaster supplies kit should be ready so that you will be prepared in the event that you lose water and electricity in your home. You should also know what to do if you encounter a tornado while you are driving a vehicle and cannot reach the shelter of your own home, or if you live in a mobile home or unsafe structure.
IN HOMES OR SMALL BUILDINGS:
- Go to the basement or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom.Get under a sturdy piece of furniture or wrap yourself in blankets or towels to protect yourself from flying debris.
IN MOBILE HOMES:
- Leave the mobile home and go to a substantial structure, such as a designated storm shelter. If no substantial structure is accessible, follow the rules below when caught outdoors.
IN SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, FACTORIES, OR SHOPPING CENTERS:
- Go to interior rooms or halls on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as an auditoriums and warehouses.
IN HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS:
- Go to interior small rooms or halls. Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas.
IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTDOORS:
- Seek shelter in a basement, shelter, or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:
- Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
- Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
- If you can safely get noticeably lower that the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in the nearest ditch or depression and use your hands to cover your head and neck.
- Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances. The important thing to understand is that if you find yourself outside or in a car with a tornado approaching and you are unable to get to a safe shelter, you are at risk from a number of things outside your control, such as the strength and path of the tornado and debris from your surroundings. This is the case whether you stay in your car or seek shelter in a depression or ditch, both of which are considered last resort options that provide little protection. The safest place to be is in an underground shelter, basement, or safe room.
Flash Flood Safety
While we work and prepare most for tornadoes, the combination of flash floods and river floods have accounted for 14 deaths and over $115 million in damage in Kansas over the past decade! These numbers compare very close to the number of tornadoes deaths (15) and tornado damage ($208 million) across Kansas during the same time period. During that time, your National Weather Service issued 1,832 warnings for flash flooding alone, alerting the public of the flood threat to life and property. When these warnings are issued for your area, or the moment you realize that a flash flood is imminent, act quickly to save yourself. YOU MAY ONLY HAVE SECONDS!
Here are some Flash Flood Safety rules:
- If ordered to evacuate or if rising water is threatening, leave immediately and get to higher ground!
IF CAUGHT OUTDOORS:
- Go to higher ground immediately! Avoid small rivers or streams, low spots, dry riverbeds, etc.
- Do not try to walk through flowing water more than ankle deep.
- Do not allow children to play around streams, drainage ditches or viaducts, storm drains,or other flooded areas!
IF IN A VEHICLE
- #1 RULE- DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH FLOODED AREAS! Even if it looks shallow enough to cross. The large majority of deaths due to flash flooding occur with people driving through flooded areas. Water only a foot deep can displace a 1500 lb. vehicle!Two feet of water can easily carry most automobiles! Roads concealed by water may not be intact.
Lightning causes around 100 deaths in the U.S. annually. Lightning safety rules:
- Stay away from windows
- Avoid using the telephone (except for emergencies) or other electrical appliances.
- Do not take a bath or shower.
IF CAUGHT OUTDOORS:
- Go to safe shelter immediately! This includes a building or a hard top car with the window up.
- If you are in a wooded area, seek shelter under a thick growth of relatively small trees.
- If you feel your hair standing on end, squat as shown in the diagram below with your head between your knees. DO NOT LIE FLAT!
- AVOID:isolated trees or other tall objects, bodies of water, sheds, fences, convertible automobiles, tractors, and motorcycles.
Winter Storm Safety
Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, winddriven snow that lasts for several days. Some winter storms are large enough to affect several states, while others affect only a single community. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.
Know the Difference
Winter Storm Outlook
Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.
Winter Weather Advisory
Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
Winter Storm Watch
Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
Winter Storm Warning
Lifethreatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.
Here are some safety tips for winter storms:
When Caught in a Winter Storm
IN A CAR OR TRUCK:
- STAY IN YOUR CAR OR TRUCK! Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
- While in your car MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE TO RESCUERS:
Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door; turn on dome light while engine is on and raise hood after snow stops.
- Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.
- Open the window a crack for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
- Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
- Find Shelter: try to stay dry, cover all exposed parts of the body.
- No shelter:
- Prepare a lean-to, wind-break, snow cave for protection from the wind.
- Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
- Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
- DO NOT EAT SNOW.It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.
AT HOME OR IN A BUILDING
- STAY INSIDE
- If you have no heat:
- Close off unneeded rooms.
- Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
- Cover the windows at night.
- Eat and Drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating,perspiration, and subsequent chill.
- AVOID OVEREXERTION, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. the strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
- DRESS TO FIT THE SEASON:
- Wear loose-fitting, light-weight clothing in several layers.
- Trapped air insulates.
- Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill.
- Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded.
- Wear a hat. Half your body heat is lost through the head.
- Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
- Try to stay dry.
Winter Weather Preparation
As we have said before, everyone is potentially at risk during a winter storm. The actual threat to you depends on your specific situation. About 70% of people who die in ice/snow events lost their life in automobiles. Another 25% were caught out in the storm itself. PREPARATION is the best way to reduce the risk of death or injury in the winter.Here are some ways you should be prepared:
- USE COMMON SENSE- Many deaths occur by people not heeding the warning of the Weather Service.
- DRESS TO FIT THE SEASON- Too many deaths result from overexposure to cold.
- IN YOUR AUTOMOBILE.
- Plan your travel and check the latest weather reports.
- Fully check and winterize your vehicle before the winter season begins.
- Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Let people know where you are going and times of arrival.
- Carry a WINTER STORM SURVIVAL KIT. This is what should be in the kit:
- Blankets and sleeping bags
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- High calorie, non-perishable food
- Extra clothing to keep dry
- Large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper for sanitary purposes.
- Smaller can which may be used for melting drinking water.
- Coffee can with waterproof matches to make a fire. You would be surprised how much heat can be produced from this.
- Sack of sand or cat litter
- Windshield scraper and brush
- Tool kit
- Tow rope
- Booster cables
- Water Container
- Compass and road maps.