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Severe Weather Safety Guidelines

When severe weather threatens, stack the odds in your favor. Have a reliable source for receiving weather warnings immediately and have a plan for what you will do when a warning is issued.

Respect the polygon! When the NWS issues a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning, it is for a narrowly defined area where the best meteorologists in the world using the best equipment believe a tornado or damaging severe weather event is occurring or will occur. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t happen very often. In fact, there are only two tornado warnings on average per year for any given location in Central Alabama. So when they are issued for your specific location, take them seriously and act!

HAVE A PLAN
…Think about the place you will go on a moment’s notice if severe weather strikes.
…Pick a place where family members can gather: the basement, bathroom, an interior hallway or closet on the lowest floor.
…Make sure your home, school, workplace and church have a designated shelter.
…Pay attention to weather information during the risk.
…Have redundant sources of weather warnings.
…Notify friends and family who may not be aware.
…Have shoes and your wallet close by so you can grab them on a moment’s notice.
…Don’t forget your pets: study leashes, food/drinking water/bowls, cat litter/pan, pet beds and toys
…Make sure pets have collars with identification. Consider microchipping them.
…Do drills with your family. Include pets.

HAVE A FAMILY EMERGENCY KIT
Have a family emergency plan. The following items are recommended to be a part of your kit:
…Flashlight and batteries
…Battery powered Weatheradio
…First aid kit
…Bottled water for people and pets
…Energy food, including nuts and energy bars
…Bike or football helmets
…Baby supplies
…Air horn to signal rescuers

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WATCH AND A WARNING
A watch means conditions are right for hazardous weather to develop.
A warning means that hazardous weather is occurring or is imminent.
All thunderstorms are not severe. Severe thunderstorms are defined as having
* large hail (1” or greater)
* damaging winds (58 mph or greater)
* tornadoes

DURING A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM OR TORNADO WATCH:
Take the following actions…
…Think about the place you will go on a moment’s notice if severe weather strikes.
…Consider postponing outdoor activities.
…Make sure your home, school, workplace and church have a designated shelter.
…Pay attention to weather information during the risk and keep an eye to the sky.
…Have redundant sources of weather warnings.
…Notify friends and family who may not be aware.
…Be ready to leave mobile homes before threatening weather arrives.
…Make sure pets are inside so you won’t have to search for them when the warning comes.

DURING A FLASH FLOOD WATCH:
A flash flood watch means that conditions are right for flooding to occur.
Take the following actions during a flash flood watch…
…Think about the higher ground that you will go to on a moment’s notice if severe weather strikes.
…Pay attention to weather information during the risk and keep an eye to the sky.
…Be alert to extended periods of heavy rain.
…Have redundant sources of weather warnings.
…Notify friends and family who may not be aware.

DURING A TORNADO WARNING…
IN GENERAL
…The time for action is NOW! You are in a TORNADO WARNING!
…GET UNDERGROUND and GET UNDER A TABLE. Seek shelter under a sturdy table in the basement. Put on a helmet or something that protects your head. Cover up with blankets. Wear sturdy shoes and long sleeved clothes. Take cell phone and charger. Make sure you have ID, credit card and cash.
…If no basement is available, go to a first floor, small interior room or a room on the opposite side from a tornado. Stay away from windows.
…In schools, churches, and shopping centers, go to a designated shelter.
…Get away from outside walls, glass, and large rooms. Get under a table or counter or in a restroom or small storeroom.
…DO NOT GET CAUGHT IN A VEHICLE OR MOBILE HOME.

HOME WITH A BASEMENT
…Seek shelter in the basement.
…Get under a sturdy object such as a large table, workbench or pool table because debris may fall into the basement.

HOME WITHOUT A BASEMENT
…Seek shelter on the first floor in an interior small room, such as a closet or bathroom.
…Try to shelter in the part of building opposite to approach of storm.

MOBILE HOME
…DO NOT GET CAUGHT IN A MOBILE HOME.
…More than 50% of tornado fatalities occur in mobile homes.
…Leave mobile homes for a safe shelter before a tornado threatens.
…Seek safety in a designated safety shelter.
…As a last resort, lie down in a ditch or depression or culvert.

CAR/TRUCK
…DO NOT GET CAUGHT IN YOUR VEHICLE.
…Vehicles are usually tossed into the air and destroyed.
…If you are in a vehicle during a tornado, drive away from the storm’s path.
…Stop and go in a substantial building if available.
…If no substantial shelter is available, abandon your vehicle and lie in a ditch or culvert.
…Choose a location such that the vehicle won’t roll over on you.

CHURCH
…Church sanctuaries and fellowship halls are not safe in tornadoes.
…Get under a table or desk in a basement area.
…If no basement is available, a small room or interior hallway in part of building opposite to approach of storm.

SCHOOL
…Auditoriums and gymnasiums are not safe places in tornadoes.
…Go to the basement or a designated shelter area on the first floor.
…Restrooms or other small, sturdy rooms are usually good choices.
…Avoid areas into which high walls could collapse.
…Stay away from windows.
…If there is no time to move to a safer location dive under tables or desks.

LARGE RETAIL/SHOPPING CENTER
…Go to a designated storm shelter (ask in advance).
…Stay out of mall walkway areas.
…Stay away from outside walls and windows.
…Get under a table, behind a counter or in a restroom or small storeroom.
…DO NOT GO TO YOUR PARKED CAR.

HOTEL/MOTEL
…Go to a designated shelter area.
…Alert others as you go.
…Underground locations are the best.
…Stay away from windows.
…As a last resort, get under a bed or lie flat in an interior hallway on the first floor with a mattress or blanket covering you.

LARGE BUILDING
…Large, concrete reinforced buildings are usually not destroyed.
…Go to the designated shelter area, usually a basement or a hallway on the lowest floor.
…Stay away from windows.

SMALL BUILDING
…Go to the designated shelter area, usually a basement or a hallway on the lowest floor.
…Stay away from windows.
…Get under something study. .

DANGEROUS MYTHS THAT CAN GET YOU KILLED
…Don’t open windows.
…The southwest corner of a building is not necessarily the safest location.
…Highway overpasses do not provide protection.

DURING A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
…If you are caught outdoors seek shelter in a nearby 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.
…Leave mobile homes for sturdier buildings.
…The basement is the safest place in homes and small buildings.
…If there is no basement, seek shelter in a windowless closet, bathroom, or inside hallway.
…Lightning and flash flooding kill as well.

DURING A FLASH FLOOD WARNING
…TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!
…Act quickly to save yourself. You may have only seconds.
…Get out of areas subject to flooding and go to higher ground.
…Do not walk or drive into standing or flowing water.
…If your vehicle is caught in water, abandon it immediately.
…Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
…Have redundant sources of weather information and stay weather aware.