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 Ready BucksExtreme Weather

Winter Weather:

While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. That could mean snow or subfreezing temperatures, as well as strong winds or even ice or heavy rain storms. One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time.

Extreme snow covers the landscape with a single bare tree.Prepare for Winter Weather
  • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the warm air inside.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify winter weather.
    • Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
    • Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
    • Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
    • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
    • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
    • Blizzard Warning means heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
    • Frost/Freeze Warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.
  • Thoroughly check and update your family's emergency supply kit before winter approaches.
  • Include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to leave.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.
Make a Plan
  • Plan to stay inside and make it on your own, at least for a period of time.
  • If you have a wood burning fire place, consider storing wood to keep you warm if winter weather knocks out your heat.
Stay Informed
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed of winter weather watches and warnings.
  • Also monitor commercial radio, television and the Internet. For a full description of what to listen for, and an explanation of different weather terms, refer to the NWS guide.
  • Keep in mind that during a severe winter storm it could be hours, or even days, before emergency personnel are able to reach you.

Thunderstorms:

Thunderstorm/Lightning Strikes  moving across the plainsIn the United States lightning kills 300 people and injures 80 on average, each year. All thunderstorms produce lightning and all have the potential for danger. Those dangers can include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, wildfires and flash flooding, which is responsible for more fatalities than any other thunderstorm-related hazard.

Lightning's risk to individuals and property is increased because of its unpredictability. It often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.

Preparing for a Thunderstorm and Lightning
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a thunderstorm hazard, including understanding the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a severe thunderstorm warning.
  • A thunderstorm watch means there is a possibility of a thunderstorm in your area.
  • A thunderstorm warning means a thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon. If you are advised to take shelter so immediately.
  • Get an emergency supply kit.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Use the 30/30 lightning safety rule. If you see lightning and you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder, go indoors. Then stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.
Have a Thunderstorm Plan
  • If a thunderstorm is likely in your area, postpone outdoor activities.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades, or curtains.
  • Avoid showering or bathing during a thunderstorm. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Watch for darkening skies, lightning, increasing winds.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for information.
  • Go quickly inside a home, building, or hard top automobile, if possible.
  • If shelter is not available go to the lowest area nearby and make yourself the smallest target possible but do not lie flat on the ground.
  • If on open water, get to land and shelter immediately.
  • Things to avoid include:
    • Tall, isolated tree in an open area.
    • Hilltops, open fields, the beach, a boat on the water, isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
    • Anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles
Stay Informed
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to your battery operated or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • Do not use electrical items such as computers or television sets as power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • A corded telephone should only be used in an emergency, but cordless phones and cell phones are safe to use. For more information about NOAA Weather Radio visit http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr.

Extreme Heat

A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for humans who don't take the proper precautions.

  • Prepare for a heat wave by checking to see if your home's cooling system is working properly.
  • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the cool air inside.
  • Plan on being inside a cool building during the hottest time of the day.
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
  • Make sure you remain properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water and limiting intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat light, well-balanced meals.
  • Dress in light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.

Stay informed about the types of medical conditions that can result from heat waves, and the proper First Aid measures that should be taken.

For more specific information, please refer to http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/heat.shtm

Tornadoes:

Tornado moving through the skyTornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival. Be prepared to act quickly. Keep in mind that while tornadoes are more common in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, they can occur in any state and at any time of the year, making advance preparation vitally important.

Prepare for a Tornado
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a tornado hazard.
    • A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area. You should monitor NOAA Weather Radio local radio and television news outlets for the latest developments.
    • A tornado warning is when a tornado is actually occurring, take shelter immediately.
  • Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.
    • Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
    • If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
    • A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
    • If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
    • Plan to stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
  • Get a kit of emergency supplies. Store it in your shelter location.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.
Plan to Take Shelter
  • If local authorities issue a tornado warning or if you see a funnel cloud. Take shelter immediately.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
Stay Informed
  • After a tornado be sure to remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines.
  • Help injured or trapped people. Check on others who may require special assistance, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
For more information on tornado risk areas and details on how to identify the safest place in your home to take shelter see "Are you Ready?" from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or Disaster Safety from the Red Cross.

Hurricanes:

Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Scientists can now predict hurricanes, but people who live in coastal communities should plan what they will do if they are told to evacuate.

Prepare for Hurricanes

  • Get a kit of emergency supplies and prepare a portable kit in case you have to evacuate.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a hurricane.
    • A hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible in your area. Be prepared to evacuate. Monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments.
    • A hurricane warning is when a hurricane is expected in your area. If local authorities advise you to evacuate, leave immediately.
  • Prepare to secure your property.
    • Cover all of your home's windows with pre-cut ply wood or hurricane shutters to protect your windows from high winds.
    • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
    • Keep all trees and shrubs well trimmed.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to evacuate.

Plan to Evacuate

  • Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
  • If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.
  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
  • Identify several places you could go in an emergency, a friend's home in another town, a motel or public shelter.
  • If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
  • Take your emergency supply kit.
  • Lock the door behind you.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
If time allows:
    • Call or email the "out-of-state" contact in your family communications plan.
    • Tell them where you are going.
    • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
    • Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
  • If you are not able to evacuate, stay indoors away from all windows. Take shelter in an interior room with no windows if possible. Be aware that there may be a sudden lull in the storm as the eye of the hurricane moves over. Stay in your shelter until local authorities say it is safe.
Stay informed
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • Stay out of flood waters, if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, should you find yourself trapped in your vehicle in rising water get out immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Be alert for tornadoes and flooding. If you see a funnel cloud or if local authorities issue a tornado warning take shelter underground, if possible or in an interior room away from windows. If waters are rising quickly or local authorities issue a floor of flash flood warning, seek higher ground.
  • Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.
  • Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after the hurricane and after flood waters recede, roads may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated. Use common sense and exercise caution.

Think About It...

  • In a severe weather situation, listening to a news station or a NOAA Weather Radio will help keep you informed about what to do.