The American Red Cross is on the ground in the Midwest, helping people impacted by the continuous onslaught of tornadoes and flooding as millions of people from Texas to New York face the threat of severe weather today. The Red Cross urges everyone in the path of these storms to get prepared now and offers the following safety steps they should follow:
Know the difference. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible. A tornado warning means a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon. Go to your safe place immediately. Watch for tornado danger signs: dark, often greenish clouds, wall cloud, cloud of debris.
- Know your community’s warning system. Many communities use sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
- Identify a safe place in your home to gather – 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 have time, move or secure items outside that can be picked up by the wind.
- 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 a vehicle, go there immediately, using your seat belt if driving.
- If you are outside, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.
- If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. Remember to buckle your seat belt.
- Stay away from bridge/highway overpasses.
- If strong winds and flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park, keeping your seat belt on and engine running. Put your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket
- Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them.
Turn around, don’t drown. Stay off the roads. If you must drive and encounter a flooded roadway, turn around and go another way.
- If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly 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.
- If your neighborhood is prone to flooding, be prepared to evacuate quickly if necessary.
- Follow evacuation orders and do not attempt to return until officials say it is safe to do so.
- 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 floodwater.
- If power lines are down, do not step in puddles or standing water.
Download our apps. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding, as well as locations of shelters. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. Parents can also download the Red Cross Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App for a fun game to teach children what to do in case of a flood, hurricane and other disasters.