Severe Weather Safety Checklist
This severe weather safety checklist is designed to give you a basic idea of what to do when severe weather threatens. When severe thunderstorms are in the forecast, follow the checklist below to prepare yourself as best as possible. (Source: NWS Norman, OK)
What To Do When A Watch Is Issued
What To Do When A Warning Is Issued
Before Storms Develop
I heard there was a chance of severe storms today when I woke up, what should I do?
- Check the Hazardous Weather Outlook.
The Hazardous Weather Outlook (HWO) can tell you when thunderstorms are expected to hit, where the best chance of severe weather will be, and it will provide a brief discussion of what is expected to happen.
- Check Your Kit:
If you have a severe weather safety kit and/or NOAA All-Hazards Radio, you should make sure that everything has fresh batteries that work. You should check your radio, flashlight, etc. because they may become necessary later in the day. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged in case you lose power. If you don't have a severe weather safety kit, here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Review Your Safety Plan:
If you have a severe weather safety plan you should review it. Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do in certain situations. Know where everyone will be during the day and make it clear what to do if severe weather impacts your location. Know where to seek shelter beforehand! If you don't have a tornado safety plan, review some safety tips and suggestions.
- Find A Way To Monitor Weather Information:
Whether it be via a television, AM/FM radio, the Internet, NOAA All-Hazards Radio, etc., continue to monitor weather information during the day for any changes in the situation. Set up a routine (i.e. check the weather information every hour on the hour). If you have access to the Internet or a NOAA Weather Radio, check for updates from NWS La Crosse and any news stories on the front of our web page (weather.gov/lacrosse).
If you follow the steps above, you should have a good idea of when and where severe weather may strike, where you and your friends and family will be during that time, and know exactly what to do if severe weather should occur.
When A Watch Is Issued
Watches may be issued hours before a storm. The sky may be sunny when you first hear a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch. Remember, a watch just means that conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms and/or tornadoes.
- Check Weather Information Again:
Don't be caught off guard! While watches may be issued before storms form, thunderstorms may be developing when the watch is posted, or thunderstorms may be ongoing and moving into the area. By checking the weather information again, you will be aware of what is going on around you.
- Make Sure Your NOAA Weather Radio is Turned ON (If you own one):
If your NOAA All-Hazards Radio was not already turned on, you should definitely make sure that it's on and the batteries are still working when a watch is issued. The radio will alert you if a warning is issued, so it is vital to have it on and working correctly.
- Consider Turning on a TV or AM/FM Radio:
If you don't own a NOAA All-Hazards Radio, you may want to consider turning on a television to a local station, or turning on an AM/FM radio. A local television station is probably the best means of staying updated on the situation other than a NOAA All-Hazards Radio, or the NWS La Crosse website.
When A Severe Thunderstorm Warning Is Issued
Do not ignore severe thunderstorm warnings! Severe thunderstorm warnings often precede tornado warnings, providing you with extra time to prepare for a dangerous storm. If there's a severe thunderstorm headed your way, you should monitor it closely, especially if a tornado watch is also in effect.
- Move Indoors and Away From Windows:
Again, do not ignore severe thunderstorm warnings. Severe thunderstorms can produce damaging straight-line winds and large hail. It is important to move inside a sturdy structure and stay away from windows.
- Monitor Weather Information Continuously:
Severe thunderstorms can and do produce tornadoes. Whatever method you use to stay up-to-date on severe weather information, make sure you do so. Being aware of what's going on around you is very important.
When A Tornado Warning Is Issued
Tornado warnings contain information that lists the cities and towns in the path of a tornado. While your National Weather Service strives to provide the most detailed and accurate information possible, there may be occasions when your small town or community is in the path of a dangerous storm, but is not listed in the warning text. This also holds true for television path forecasts. You should be cautious when using detailed forecasts of time and location. Because of the way radar works and how storms behave, these times and locations could be off by several minutes and several miles. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to your tornado shelter.
- Move quickly! Don't waste valuable time by trying to see the tornado. If you wait until you can see or hear it coming, it may be too late.
- Be sure you're dressed, and don't forget to wear sturdy shoes!
- Take your cell phone, car keys and identification with you.
- GET IN, GET DOWN, AND COVER UP!
This is EXTREMELY important. If you are outside, get inside. If you're already inside, get as far into the middle of the building as possible. Get underground if possible - basement is preferred. If you cannot, go to the lowest floor possible. Flying and falling debris are a storm's number one killer. Use pillows, blankets, coats, helmets, etc to cover up and protect your head and body from flying debris.
- DO NOT seek shelter under a highway overpass. They are not safe!
- DO NOT open doors or windows. This does not help!
- DO NOT go outside to find the tornado, even if you think it's far away!