Severe Weather Threat Continues – Red Cross Issues Safety Steps

Severe Weather
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Tornadoes, thunderstorms, snow and wildfires continue to threaten many parts of the country this week, and the American Red Cross has steps people can take to stay safe if bad weather hits their community.

For Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and far northern Texas, weather experts have forecasted tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds. Severe thunderstorms are also possible from central Texas to Illinois, bringing with it the threat of flash flooding in the Southern/Central Plains to Upper Mississippi Valley. In Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, strong winds and low humidity have increased wildfire conditions. And winter weather is still keeping its grip on the West, with areas from Colorado to the Great Lakes region seeing snow. Last night in Wyoming, 56 people spent the night in Red Cross shelters due to blizzard conditions.

The best way for people to stay safe in severe weather is to stay informed and be prepared with the following information:

TORNADOES Stay tuned to the local news or a NOAA Weather Radio. If a tornado warning is issued:

  • Take shelter in a basement or safe room.
  • If no underground shelter is available, go to a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • If in a car, buckle the seat belt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park. Keep your seatbelt on and put your head below the windows, covering yourself with your hands or a blanket. 

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Seek shelter immediately.
  • Unplug appliances, and avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. (Leaving electric lights on, however, is okay.)
  • Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any purpose.
  • Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job.
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows to prevent glass from shattering into your home.
  • WINTER STORMS Avoid driving during a snow storm, and keep the gas tank full to keep the line from freezing. If someone does get stuck in the snow:

  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Keep one window that is away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.

  • If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way.
  • If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.

  • Make sure driveway entrances and house numbers are clearly marked.
  • Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside of a home, such as a small pond or swimming pool.
  • When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution.

    People can download free Red Cross apps on tornadoes, flooding, wildfires and other emergency situations for Apple or Android devices. has even listed the Red Cross Tornado and First Aid Apps as part of 7 Tools to Help You Survive a Tornado. Find full preparedness information on tornadoes, thunderstorms, snow, flooding, wildfire and other disasters here.

    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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.