Severe weather is headed once again to the southern states. The National Weather Service reports multiple severe thunderstorms are expected from Oklahoma and Texas across the south to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
People in the region are at risk for flooding rain, damaging winds and tornadoes, along with the possibility of a derecho, a group of fast-moving thunderstorms that cause extensive wind damage for hundreds of miles.
The American Red Cross is preparing to respond if necessary and offers steps people should take to help stay safe.
SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY
- Watch for storm signs, such as darkening skies, lightning flashes and increasing wind.
- If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger of lightning.
- Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning aren’t in the area where it’s raining.
- If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or vehicle with the windows closed.
- Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
- Avoid using electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered or hand-crank radios instead.
- Keep away from windows.
- Don’t take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
- If you are driving, try to safely exit the road and park.
- Stay in your vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside of the vehicle.
- If you’re outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall or isolated trees and metal objects, such as fences and bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe places to be.
- Turn around, don’t drown! Stay off the roads. If you must drive and you encounter a flooded roadway, turn around and go another way.
- If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising around you, 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.
- Head for higher ground and stay there.
- Tune into your local radio, NOAA radio or news channels for the latest updates. If your neighborhood is prone to flooding, prepare to evacuate quickly if necessary. Follow evacuation orders and don’t return until officials say it is safe.
- Stay away from floodwaters. Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around floodwaters and your home.
- Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwaters.
- If power lines are down, don’t step in puddles or standing water.
A tornado watch means a tornado is possible. A tornado warning means a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon. Learn about your community’s warning system. Many communities use sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
- Watch for tornado danger signs: dark and greenish clouds, a wall cloud or cloud of debris.
- Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them.
- If you have time, move or secure items outside that can be picked up by wind.
- During a tornado warning, go to your safe place immediately, whether it’s a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. A small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
- If you live in a mobile home, find a safe place in a nearby sturdy building. No mobile home is safe in a tornado. If you have access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, go there immediately.
- If you’re outside, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter, immediately get in a vehicle and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. Remember to buckle your seat belt.
- Stay away from bridges or highway overpasses.
- If strong winds and flying debris occur while driving, pull over and park. Keep on your seat belt and the engine running. Put your head down below the windows, and cover your head with your hands and a blanket.
DOWNLOAD OUR APPS. The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe with real-time alerts, shelter locations and safety advice. The Red Cross First Aid and Pet First Aid apps provide instant access to information on handling the most common emergencies. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Parents can also download the Red Cross Monster Guard App for a fun way to teach children what to do in case of a flood, hurricane and other emergencies.