We’re a month into hurricane season and as Tropical Storm Cindy showed us the week of June 21st, these weather systems can stall, causing severe weather and damage as storms move inland. Heavy rain, flooding, and the threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can occur hundreds of miles away from where these storms make landfall.
Severe weather is the last thing you want to interrupt summer fun, but it’s a real concern, and can develop from a threat into a warning in just a short period of time. Not only is it a good idea to keep up with the latest weather news, but it’s crucial to prepare in advance.
Planning now can protect you and your loved ones from serious emergencies. The Red Cross has some key steps you can take so you can stay safe if severe weather or flooding is possible in your area.
Radio Broadcasts: Stay informed of severe weather developments by NOAA radio broadcasts. Battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA weather radios are available to purchase in the on-line Red Cross Store.
Watches vs. Warnings: A watch means flooding or severe weather is possible. A warning means flooding or severe weather is already happening, or will be happening very soon. Don’t hesitate. If a warning has been issued, you should take immediate action.
Evacuation Plan: You and the members of your household may need to quickly leave your residence. Having a plan already in place will allow you to evacuate if local law enforcement or emergency responders tell you to do so.
Be Informed: Do you know what your local community’s response plan is? Now is the time to discover local plans and map out routes to local shelters. If you’re traveling to another destination, learn about how that city or town spreads the word about emergency situations.
Shelters: Everyone is welcome at Red Cross shelters. If you have any special requests or needs, you can contact the Eastern Pennsylvania Region chapter ahead of time to speak with a Red Cross staff member. Register any family members who have special medical needs. Service animals are welcome in shelters. Make separate arrangements for all other pets. To find out real-time shelter availability, you can log onto http://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services/find-an-open-shelter and search for open shelters by your zip code.
Emergency Kit: Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool like a Swiss Army knife, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. If you have an emergency kit already packed, be sure to check if your food and water supplies haven’t expired, and if your paperwork is up to date. Replace as necessary.
Securing Property: If your residence is in the path of a hurricane or tropical storm, install permanent storm shutters or invest in pre-cut one-half inch marine plywood to fit windows and doors. High winds can turn typical outdoor items into dangers. Store lawn furniture and other loose items like toys, garden tools, decorations and trashcans so these items are secure.
Red Cross Emergency App: Want to learn more in-depth tips? Download the free Red Cross Emergency App from the Apple App Store or Google Play, or by texting “GET EMERGENCY” to 90099.
Weather Red Report: The Red Cross and The Weather Channel have partnered to produce a weekly national weather roundup, airing on The Weather Channel on Sundays at 8:40 am EST. Segments from the Weather Red Report are available online at http://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/weather-red-report. Stay up to date and know what to do in a weather emergency.
-Written by Elizabeth McLaren