The American Red Cross is on the alert as people in the Midwest prepare for the possibility of severe storms and tornadoes today, while continuing to help with clean-up efforts across those southern states inundated with flood waters last week.
The National Weather Service expects severe thunderstorms with the possibility of a few strong tornadoes in parts of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma today. The Red Cross offers the following steps people can take to stay safe during these storms:
- Before a thunderstorm, pick a safe place in your home for family members to gather, away from windows, skylights, and glass.
- 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.
- Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home.
- Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
- Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
- Know your community's warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornados, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
- Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
- Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
- Watch for tornado danger signs – dark clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud, or roaring noise.
- If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now 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 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.
Additional information on what to do during severe storms is available on our web site. Meanwhile, clean-up continues across Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas after the recent flooding and tornadoes. The Red Cross is there, lending a hand to those who were affected.
Hundreds of people are still in Red Cross shelters, seeking food and a safe place to stay. If someone needs information about Red Cross shelters, they can visit redcross.org and click on the “Find a Shelter” link.
The Red Cross has already served more than 192,000 meals and snacks across the five states. More than 60 mobile response vehicles are in the affected areas, delivering food and clean-up items throughout the damaged neighborhoods.
If you would like to help, there are three ways that people can make a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund: Visit redcross.org to donate online, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.
Help people affected by disasters like the recent floods and tornadoes in the South, by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for disasters and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting redcross.org.