Each year thunderstorms, lightning, hail, and tornadoes damage property and injure people. There are things that you can do to prepare yourself. As I write this post in Kansas, we haven’t had a tornado here or in Oklahoma this year. If you live in either of these states, you should still prepare.
Plan how each family member will contact the others if a storm occurs when you and your family members are at work and school. Have a common meeting place just in case your home is damaged so severely you can’t go back to it. Build a home storm kit that includes a flashlight (extra batteries), a small battery powered radio (extra battery), a blanket, water (1-2 gallons), a first-aid kit, candles, matches, and spare medications that family members might need to take. Identify a place in your home that will be safe. This could be a basement, room inside the center of the house, or a bathroom. Monitor the path and severity of storm warnings on television. Be prepared to switch to your radio if you lose television reception or power goes out. When weather approaches, you should plan for the lights to go out. Know where the candles are and how to light them quickly. If you are using a well plan to lose water. Be prepared to ration use of the toilet and fill the tub with water to flush the toilet. Also get out the water you have stored for drinking. You usually are safer inside of a structure in a thunderstorm than outside.
If you are in a motor vehicle, it may be your only means of protection. It is safer to stay in the car if the storm does not include a tornado. You should have a severe weather kit for your vehicle that consists of a flashlight (extra batteries), a blanket, water (1-2 pints), and a first-aid kit. After the storm, it is best to remain with your car if it will not start. You will typically get help faster by staying with your vehicle.
If you see lightning or hear thunder seek protection. If you are in a building stay off the landline phones and don’t touch any water pipes. If you are in a vehicle, don’t contact any metal parts, which can conduct electricity. If you are outside seeking shelter in a building, motor vehicle, under any overhead cover, or a group of trees using the lightning strike position. Don’t attempt shelter under a single tree. That single tree is more likely to be struck by lightning. Don’t lie or sit on the ground. Lightning often runs along the ground. The more body contact you have with the ground, the more likely it is you will be shocked. The lightning strike position is to squat down on both feet, wrap your arms around your knees and rest your head on your knees.
Always take tornado watches and warnings seriously. Seek immediate shelter if a tornado is coming. Know what county you live in and the counties that border yours. Note the direction that the storm is moving as you watch television or listen to the radio. If you hear a siren, seek immediate shelter and use your portable radio to learn about the danger. Don’t come out of the shelter before the storm is over. Teach your children to return home immediately or seek refuge in a neighbor’s home. This will prevent a parent from going out in the storm to look for a child. It is also dangerous to go out in a storm to rescue pets.