The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a rare “high risk” of violent tornadoes over the next 24 hours in the south-central part of the country, particularly in Oklahoma and Texas. The storms will also bring a risk of major flash flooding. This weather is dangerous to both residents and their property and the American Red Cross is preparing to respond if necessary. People are urged to get ready now if they are in the path of this severe weather.
This highest threat level of severe weather was last issued in May of 2017.
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. Full tornado safety information is available here.
BEFORE THE STORM
- Identify a safe place in your home where household members and pets will gather during a tornado: a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
- In a high-rise building, pick a hallway in the center of the building. You may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor.
- In a mobile home, choose a safe place in a nearby sturdy building. If your mobile home park has a designated shelter, make it your safe place. No mobile home is safe in a tornado.
- Bring items inside that can be picked up by the wind.
- Bring companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them.
- Watch for tornado danger signs: dark, often greenish clouds, wall cloud, cloud of debris.
- If you are outside, look for the closest option to:
o Seek shelter in a basement, storm shelter or sturdy building.
o If you can’t walk to shelter, get into a vehicle and try to drive to a safe shelter.
o If strong winds and debris are occurring, pull over and put your vehicle in park. Keep your seat belt on and engine running. Protect your head by leaning down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket or jacket.
o Stay away from bridges and highway overpasses.
o The FEMA Shelter site will be updated to show where emergency shelters are being set up after the storm has passed for people to be able to seek shelter who may not be able to stay in their homes or who are unable to return to their home.
BE RED CROSS READY
1. Get a kit. If you’ve ever fumbled to find a flashlight during a blackout, you know what it feels like to not be prepared. Get your emergency preparedness kit ready. You should include:
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food and water—one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit, medications and medical items
- Copies of all important documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Extra cash
2. Make a plan. Talk with household members about what you would do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case you are separated, and choose two places to meet - one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
- Choose a contact person from out of the area and make sure all household members have this person’s phone number and email address. It may be easier to call long distance or text if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.
- Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept.
- Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable.
- Don’t forget your pets. If you must evacuate, make arrangements for your animals. Keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.
3. Be informed. Know the risks where you live, work, learn and play.
- Arm yourself with information about what to do in case an emergency occurs. Remember that emergencies like fires and blackouts can happen anywhere, so everyone should be prepared for them.
- Find out how you would receive information from local officials in the event of an emergency.
- Learn first aid and CPR/AED so that you have the skills to respond in an emergency before help arrives, especially during a disaster when emergency responders may not be as available. A variety of online, in-classroom and blended (part online and part in the classroom) training courses are available at redcross.org/takeaclass.
4. 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.