Severe Weather Watch Safety Messages



Severe weather is possible …today/tonight or over the next few days…. Here are some things you can do to prepare for the severe weather threat.


1.  Know the definitions of severe thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings.

  • A severe thunderstorm watch means severe thunderstorms are possible in your area.
  • A severe thunderstorm warning means severe thunderstorms are occurring in your area.
  • A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes, for example, during a severe thunderstorm.

A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar. You should take shelter immediately.

2.  A few minutes of preparation now could mean a lot later.

  • Take a few minutes with your family to develop a tornado emergency plan. Sketch a floor plan of where you live, or walk through each room and discuss where and how to seek shelter.
  • Show a second way to exit from each room or area. If you need special equipment, such as a rope ladder, mark where it is located.
  • Mark where your first-aid kit and fire extinguishers are located.
  • Mark where the utility switches or valves are located so they can be turned off--if time permits--in an emergency.
  • Teach your family how to administer basic first aid, how to use a fire extinguisher, and how and when to turn off water, gas, and electricity in your home.
  • Learn the emergency dismissal policy for your child's school.


3.  If you have special needs:

  • Write down your specific needs, limitations, capabilities, and medications. Keep this list near you always--perhaps in your purse or wallet.
  • Find someone nearby (a spouse, roommate, friend, neighbor, relative, or co-worker) who will agree to assist you in case of an emergency. Give him or her a copy of your list. You may also want to provide a spare key to your home, or directions to find a key.
  • Keep aware of weather conditions through whatever means are accessible to you. Some options are closed captioning or scrolled warnings on TV, radio bulletins, or call-in weather information lines.


4.  Practice your emergency plan. Conduct drills and ask questions to make sure your family remembers information on tornado safety, particularly how to recognize hazardous weather conditions and how to take shelter.

Severe Weather Watch Safety Messages



5.  Store important documents in a fire and water-proof safe. Things to include are:

  • Birth certificates
  • Ownership certificates (autos, boats, etc.)
  • Social security cards
  • Insurance policies
  • Will
  • Household inventory, including lists of items and photographs.


6.  Secure your home’s structure. No home is completely safe in a tornado. However, attention to construction details can reduce damage and provide better protection for you and your family if a tornado should strike your house. If an inspection using the "Home Inspection Checklist" reveals a possible hazard in the way your home is constructed, contact your local city or county building inspectors for more information about structural safety. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do any needed work for you.


7.  Arrange and secure household items.

  • Arrange furniture so that chairs and beds are away from windows, mirrors, and picture frames.
  • Place heavy or large items on lower shelves.
  • Secure your large appliances, especially your water heater, with flexible cable, braided wire, or metal strapping.
  • Identify top-heavy, free-standing furniture, such as bookcases and china cabinets, that could topple over.
  • Install sliding bolts or childproof latches on all cabinet doors.


8.  Keep a first-aid kit stocked with things like:

  • Hydrogen peroxide to wash and disinfect wounds
  • Prescriptions and any long-term medications (keep these current)
  • Aspirin and non-aspirin tablets
  • Rolled gauze
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Thermometer
  • Paper cups
  • Plastic bags
  • Instant cold packs for sprains
  • Eye drops

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