Growing up, we had a weather radio that sat in our laundry room. Even at a young age, during the spring and summer months we knew what to do when the alarm sounded – check the warning and if we heard our location, head to the basement. My parents had a 'fort' set up underneath the basement stairs. As kids, it seemed like a fun adventure to 'camp out' in our fort with flashlights while waiting for the storm to pass. As an adult, I realize how lucky we were to have parents who practiced preparation and taught us how to be prepared.
In the National Capital Region, we face three specific weather threats during the spring season – thunderstorms, floods and tornadoes. Severe weather may occur without warning. In the moment, our families and loved ones must be ready to act. In order to be prepared, we must be educated about these weather events and plan our responses before we are face to face with a storm. To help you best prepare for and respond to these emergencies, the Red Cross offers specific planning and actions:
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
- If you are driving, pull off the roadway and park. Stay in the car with the windows closed and turn on the emergency flashers. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside of the vehicle.
- If you are inside, unplug appliances and avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
- If you are caught outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall, isolated trees and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are not safe.
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Stay away from floodwaters (especially children).
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Know your community’s warning system.
- Pick a place where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered. If you are in a high-rise building and don’t have enough time to go to the lowest floor, pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
- Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile. Remove all dead and damaged tree branches.