Summer is not officially over until next week and the American Red Cross reminds everyone to learn what they should do when bad weather affects their neighborhood. Yesterday severe thunderstorms ripped through Ohio, West Virginia and New York, taking off roofs and downing trees. Along the coast, two massive storms are churning up the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, increasing the risk of dangerous surf conditions over the next few days.
Hurricanes Igor and Julia are swirling over the Atlantic with winds as high as 140 mph and are expected to cause powerful rip currents along the shore. Neither storm is expected to be a threat to the U.S., but could pose dangers for swimmers. The Red Cross advises anyone taking a late-summer trip to the beach to swim on lifeguard-protected beaches if possible, within the designated swimming areas.
If you are caught in a rip current, remember the following:
- Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
- Never fight against the current.
- Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle—away from the current—toward shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the victim something that floats, such as a lifejacket, cooler or inflatable ball. Yell instructions on how to escape the current. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
Yesterday’s severe weather serves as a reminder that thunderstorms produce dangerous lightning and can cause flash flooding and structural damage. Outdoor activities should be postponed if thunderstorms are likely to occur. If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, people should take shelter in a substantial building, or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds. If you hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning and should get indoors.
If severe thunderstorms are predicted for your area, you should:
- Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
- Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
- Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
- Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
- If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
- If you are 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.
For more information on what steps you should take to be prepared and stay safe when bad weather affects your neighborhood, visit www.redcross.org.