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Red Cross Safety Tips for Staying Safe

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle providing relief after Superstorm Sandy.

As people across western North Carolina prepare for another strong storm system expected to impact much of western North Carolina Wednesday, the American Red Cross is urging people to prepare now. 

According to weather experts, this storm may bring severe thunderstorms more significant than what much of the region experienced Monday. Thunderstorms can cause flash flooding. High winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages. Tornadoes are also possible. 

“Spring storms can be deadly,” said Angela A. Broome, regional chief executive officer, Western North Carolina Region of the American Red Cross. “We urge people to prepare for the possibility of being affected by severe weather. Stay informed about changing weather conditions. Check your emergency kit and know your emergency plan.” 

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to get safety information, severe weather alerts and shelter locations on their mobile device. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. 

Listen to local news for updates and watch for signs of a storm such as darkening skies, increasing wind or lightning flashes. Postpone outdoor activities. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. Know your community’s tornado warning system and listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about any tornado watches and warnings issued.

Households should have disaster kits with enough supplies for at least three days, including water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. They should also have an emergency plan in which each person knows how to reach other members of the household. The plan should also include an out-of-area emergency contact person, and where everyone should meet if they can't go home.

THUNDERSTORM SAFETY:

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Find safe shelter immediately. If thunder roars, go indoors!
  • As the storm approaches, take shelter in a building
  • If you are driving, pull off the roadway and park. Stay in the car with the windows closed and turn on the emergency flashers. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside of the vehicle.
  • If you are inside, unplug appliances and avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
  • If you are caught 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.

TORNADO SAFETY:

BEFORE THE STORM:

  • Pick a safe room – a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Move items inside that could be picked up by the wind such as lawn furniture, trash cans and hanging plants.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs such as dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud or cloud of debris, large hail, a roaring noise or funnel cloud.

DURING A TORNADO:

  • Go to an underground shelter, basement or safe room. If these are not available, go to a small windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. Do not seek shelter in the hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. If you can get to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, abandon the mobile home immediately and go to the nearest sturdy building, using your seat belt if driving. Do not wait until you see the tornado.
  • If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you can’t get to one quickly, get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the nearest sturdy building.
  • If driving, either stay in the car with the seat belt on and put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. Or, if you can get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, get out of the car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

HOW YOU CAN HELP People can give to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

 

People can also give blood when the weather is such that they may go to a blood collection facility without danger. For locations nearest you, visit redcrossblood.org.