Thunderstorms and other severe weather can be very frightening. Storms can produce strong winds, heavy rain, hail, and tornadoes. When a storm becomes strong enough, a state of emergency may be declared. During weather emergencies, it is important to have a plan to keep you and your family safe. Planning ahead and practicing for weather emergencies can help prevent injuries that can happen during severe weather.

During a thunderstorm, the most important thing to do is stay safe from lightning. Lightning is a form of electricity created in the atmosphere. Standing outside during a storm, especially near metal or trees, can be very dangerous. This is why it is so important to remain inside during a thunderstorm. Stay away from windows. Staying inside can also help protect you from strong winds and other hazards created by the storm. Your family should have an emergency kit packed for thunderstorms. This kit can include flashlights, food and clean water, and a battery-powered radio to hear weather updates. Keep your emergency kit in an easy-to-find location so that it can easily be used during an emergency.

One danger that thunderstorms can create is tornadoes. Tornadoes are one of the most dangerous weather events people face. Tornadoes can produce winds strong enough to rip through houses and pick up cars. During a tornado, an emergency warning siren will sound to inform people of the threat of a tornado. When you hear an emergency siren, it is important to find shelter as quickly as possible. When sheltering yourself from a tornado, find an interior room on the lowest level of your house. Stay away from windows. Keep your head covered until the danger has passed. If you are trapped outside, try to find the lowest level of ground you can. Lie flat and keep your head covered. Once the tornado has passed, move to a safe location.

Another dangerous type of storm that creates high winds is a hurricane. Hurricanes usually happen in places near the ocean. They can create winds of more than 100 miles per hour. The Saffir-Simpson scale measures how strong a hurricane is. These storms are ranked on a scale from Category 1 to Category 5. Category 5 hurricanes, the strongest on the scale, produce wind speeds of more than 156 miles per hour! Hurricanes can cause severe flooding, and many times, people will have to evacuate, or leave the area, before the storm arrives. Luckily, people can usually be told ahead of time that a hurricane is coming so they can prepare. During a hurricane, it’s important to stay indoors and away from windows. Strong winds can break windows and throw heavy objects. Keep an emergency kit that includes clean food and water for several days, flashlights, batteries, and a battery-powered radio. Wait out the storm indoors until it is safe to leave.

Hurricanes can cause severe flooding, too, and this can be very dangerous. Deep waters can have strong currents that can sweep people off their feet and cause a person to drown. Moving flood waters also carry debris that can cause injuries. Flood waters can easily become contaminated with chemicals or other things that can cause disease. If it floods, stay inside in an upper level of your home.

Cold weather can also be a weather emergency. Freezing temperatures during the winter can cause frostbite and hypothermia. Always dress warmly during cold weather months, wearing layers to help keep your body warm and dry. Understand the dangers of cold weather, and avoid being outside too long in low temperatures. Blizzards are winter storms that produce a lot of snow. These storms make things like driving very difficult and dangerous, so it’s best to stay indoors during a blizzard.

Severe weather can be very dangerous. Strong winds, debris, flooding, and low temperatures can all cause injury or even death. Having a plan to be prepared for severe weather ahead of time is the best way to remain safe. Have emergency kits packed and safely stashed in your home. Practice your safety plan during good weather. Everything you do to make sure you’re prepared for storms is something that can help keep yourself and your family safe.