It’s a standing joke among Ohioans: If you don’t like the weather, don’t worry; it will change quickly! That’s especially true this time of the year. You can take steps now to be prepared for the severe thunderstorms, and flooding that are part of life in Ohio during the spring and summer months.
Keep up-to-date on weather news, either through local news or by using a NOAA Weather Radio. The American Red Cross emergency app is also a handy way to stay informed.
You need to know where the safe places are in your home and other buildings you use. To be safe during a thunderstorm, stay away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail. If a tornado threatens, the “safe room” should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Move to this space as soon as severe weather threatens. Don’t forget to bring pets inside.
Have an emergency preparedness kit. This should include:
- Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home) • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home) •Flashlight • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) • Extra batteries • First aid kit • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items • Multi-purpose tool • Sanitation and personal hygiene items • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies) • Current digital photos of loved ones, updated every six months, especially for children • Cell phone with chargers • Family and emergency contact information • Extra cash • Emergency blanket • Map(s) of the area
Don’t use electrical equipment and telephones during a thunderstorm. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead. Don’t take a bath or shower, and don’t use plumbing.
Postpone outdoor activities if severe weather threatens, even if it hasn’t hit yet. You can be struck by lightning even if it’s not raining where you are.
Tie down anything that could be tossed around and hit someone, including lawn furniture, trash cans, and hanging baskets. Make a list of things to bring inside. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed and remove damaged branches so plants don’t become projectiles.
If you are driving during a thunderstorm, try to get off the roadway safely and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity inside and outside the vehicle.
If you are caught outside and a tornado threatens, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs while you’re driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
- Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the window and cover it with your hands and a blanket if possible.
- If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, get out of your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
Never walk or drive through standing water. You could get swept away in less than six inches of water; your vehicle can float in less than two feet. Vehicles can be swept away in rushing water.
For more information on how to deal with severe weather, visit Severe Weather Tips from the American Red Cross. You can also download the Red Cross tornado app or text “GETNADO” to 90999. You can program the zip code of your home into the app, and you’ll be alerted to severe thunderstorms and tornados for the area around your home, as well as near your current GPS location if you aren’t home.