You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Stay Safe While Driving in Severe Weather

Severe Weather While Driving – How to Stay Safe
Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

You’re driving along an unfamiliar rural interstate. The sun is shining one minute and the next the sky turns ominously dark. A storm is coming, and from the looks of things it could be a bad one. Do you know what to do to stay safe? The American Red Cross has steps to follow to remain safe if you run into a storm while traveling.

FIRST, BE PREPARED If planning to travel by vehicle, first check the weather forecast for your entire route, getting prepared for what may be in store. Travel and weather web sites can help you avoid storms and other regional challenges that could impact your safety. Other steps to take before you depart include:

  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk.
  • Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications and important documents or information you may need.
  • Find out what disasters may occur in the place where you are traveling, especially if they are disasters you have never experienced before. Find out how you would get information in the event of a disaster (local radio systems, emergency alert systems).
  • TIME TO GO As you get ready to depart, fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see. Don’t let the gas tank get too low during the trip. Use your seat belts and give your full attention to the road and avoid distractions such as cell phones. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely and use caution in work zones.

    DURING THE STORM Many states now use flashing signs along the highways to warn drivers about severe weather threats. If you pass one of these signs, or the sky turns dark and threatening, tune into a local radio station to listen to weather forecasts for where you are. If you are caught in a storm while driving, turn your headlights on and try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. If thunder and lightning is occurring, avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

    IS IT A TORNADO? Severe tornadoes are more common in the Plains states, but have been reported in every state. If flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park. You have the following options as a last resort:

  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
  • Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
  • If you are traveling with your pet, the Red Cross has special advice to make your trip more enjoyable

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.