Chances are, you have probably been in rain, hail, snow, or even more extreme weather. Whether you are alone or with adults, it is important to know how to be prepared and stay safe during extreme weather conditions.
Thunder & Lightning
Although lightning is unpredictable, there are ways to reduce your chances of being hurt in a lightning storm. The danger from lightning comes not only from being hit directly, but also because the electricity it produces can travel to your body through objects like flag poles or water. Lightning can also start fires by hitting trees or dry grass.
To stay safe during a thunderstorm, follow the guidelines listed below.
- Stay inside or in a car (a regular car, not a convertible) and do not go outside.
- Stay away from things that can conduct electricity, such as metal pipes.
- If you are outside, stay in an open area and crouch down in a ditch when possible.
- Avoid things like water and large metal poles – such as flag poles – which attract lightning during a thunderstorm.
- Avoid tall objects such as trees when you are outside (it is safer to stay in an open area than stand near an isolated tree).
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A flood can occur for many reasons, such as melted snow, overflowing rivers & creeks, heavy rain, broken dams, or large ocean waves. Floods – both large and small – can cause damage.
If you hear about a flash-flood warning, stay with a parent or an adult. This means a flood could happen soon and at any time. If a flood occurs, you should go to an area that is at a higher elevation, or above sea level. A flood warning means that a flood may happen in the near future and you may need to evacuate your house and neighborhood.
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Hurricanes are very strong storms that can form in many areas along the coast. They have winds that blow at speeds over 74 miles per hour. Hurricanes can damage trees, streets, houses, cars, and just about anything in their path that is not secured.
Since they form over the ocean, they also make strong waves called "storm surges." During and following a storm, it is important to stay away from the ocean and beaches.
To stay safe during a hurricane or hurricane warning, follow the tips listed here:
- Stay informed by listening to a radio or TV because you may have to evacuate.
- Make sure you have enough food and water in case you can not get to a store for a few days.
- Talk with a parent or adult about boarding up windows so they do not break in the wind and cause injuries.
- Bring in furniture from outside.
- Have gas in your car in case you need to evacuate.
- Do not go outside during a hurricane.
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Snow storms can occur during the winter in many areas. Heavy snowfall can cause damage, so you have to be careful.
- Keep a battery-powered radio and flashlights with extra batteries in the house.
- Store canned food that does not need cooking in case you lose power.
- Bring in wood for the fireplace, if you own one.
To stay safe during a snow storm follow the tips listed here:
- Stay warm. If it is very cold, you can get frostbite on your skin or hypothermia – both of which can be dangerous.
- If you are stuck in a car, hang something out of the window or off the antennae to get attention. Do not try to get out of the car unless you see somewhere safer to go.
- Run the heater and car engine for 10 minutes for each hour you are stuck in the car, so that things can get warmed up without running out of gas. When the engine is on, you need to open a window a little so you do not get carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you are in a remote area, you may need to leave your car by walking. Do so only after the storm is over.
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In some areas, tornadoes are common in warm weather. Tornadoes, which are extremely dangerous, occur when storm clouds begin to move very fast and create a funnel of wind.
This funnel is very powerful and can reach speeds up to 300 miles per hour. With all this speed, the tornado can pick up entire houses and relocate them miles away. It is important to stay alert about tornadoes that may be heading to your area.
When the skies get very stormy and have a grayish-green color, or when a storm dies down very fast and becomes very quiet, you should pay attention to your local weather forecast.
If they issue a tornado watch it means that a tornado is possible and you should be extra alert. If they issue a tornado warning it means that a tornado has been spotted or the chances of a tornado are very high.
If a tornado is detected in your area, follow the tips listed here to stay safe:
- Find shelter immediately. The best place to go is into a storm shelter that is designed for tornadoes.
- If you do not have a storm shelter, go to your basement and stay under a heavy table or desk.
- Avoid windows and the west and south walls.
- If you do not have a basement, find an interior bathroom that does not have many windows.
- Get into the bathtub and cover yourself with a couch cushion. Sometimes after a tornado, the only thing left of a house is the bathtub!
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Written By: Katie Ransohoff,
high school student writer
Reviewed by: Adolescent Interest Group
Last reviewed: August 2013
Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Being Ready for Disasters, FEMA for Kids.
For More Information:
See our Earthquake Safety article.
See our Fire Safety article.