As potential seasonal storms approach, the American Red Cross urges community members to be prepared for accompanying hazards such as flooding, storm surges, high winds and hail. The Red Cross encourages area residents to familiarize themselves with the proper preparation tools and resources for upcoming inclement weather.
As a flash flood watch takes effect this afternoon through tomorrow night, the Red Cross offers the following safety tips to be prepared for flash flooding, thunderstorms and power outages. In addition, more preparedness resources for all types of emergencies can be found at RedCross.org/Prepare.
FLASH FLOODING Flash floods occur suddenly when water rises rapidly along a stream or low-lying area. A flash flood watch means flooding is possible in your area. A warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon. If your neighborhood is threatened with flooding you should:
• Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
• When a flash flood warning is issued for your area, head to higher ground and stay there.
• Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
• Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon water above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
• If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
• Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
THUNDERSTORMS If someone can hear thunder, they are close enough for lightning to be a threat. If thunder roars, go indoors and stay inside for at least 30 minutes after the thunder stops.
• Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
• Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
• If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
• Avoid using electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
• Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
• Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
• If someone is driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
• If outside and unable to reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.
POWER OUTAGES If a power outage is two hours or less, do not be concerned about losing your perishable foods. For prolonged power outages, though, there are steps you can take to minimize food loss and to keep all members of your household as comfortable as possible.
• Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about four hours.
• If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
• Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.
• Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
• Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
• Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
• Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.