Severe Weather Warning: Safety Tips for When Weather Turns Bad
Most people dismiss the ideal of weather being dangerous, thinking of it as more of an inconvenience. But it is important to remember that severe weather can be deadly AND it can strike without warning. If you have an outdoor get away planned, you need to ensure you have one eye on the sky and a plan for if the weather takes a turn for the worst.
Flash flood, tornados, severe thunderstorm and even dangerous hail are environmental issues that strike without warning and cause death or injuries every season. Sadly, many weather-related injuries could be avoided if only those involved had obtained a little training. Hopefully, the following tips will get you started in the right direction and help ensure your next adventure does not become a weather disaster.
Preparation is Key
Prior to heading out on your next adventure it is important you take a few simple steps to prepare for a possible weather emergency. Although the odds of being struck by lighting or caught in a tornado are slime if it does happen you will have little time to react, never mind develop a plan on how to do so.
- Identify the weather-related issues you are most likely to encounter during your adventure.
- Check the weather prior to leaving, once you arrive at your destination and frequently during extended trips.
- Have a plan for how you and your party will react – when you will leave, how you will do so and where you will go are essential. You should also have a communication plan and preferred meeting place should you become separated.
Thunderstorms and Lightning
Spring and summer are prime time for thunderstorms and the lightning that accompanies them. While thunderstorms are more likely to occurring during late afternoon or early evening, they could occur any time the conditions are right. If you see signs of a possible thunderstorm – dark skies, lightning flashes or increased winds – assume a storm is about to strike and prepare for the worst.
- Take shelter in building or vehicle. Close all windows & doors while positioning yourself low and away from glass.
- Avoid taking shelter under single trees as they will likely attract lightning.
- If caught in the open avoid being the tallest object in the area- seek depressions or low laying areas as opposed to hills or open fields.
- Stay out of the water. Lightning can use the water to travel great distances.
Flash floods are the result of heavy, rapid rain fall in a localized area. It is important to remember that a distant rain storm can cause flooding anywhere downstream.
- Move to higher ground as soon as possible.
- Stay out of the water as it may be contaminated.
- Avoid crossing flooded areas. Turn around don’t drown. Remember, it only takes 6” of water to knock you off your feet and 2’ to float an automobile.
Due to most hail be small and unlikely to cause and damage or injury it is often discounted when it comes to weather emergencies. However, the largest hail on record was larger than a softball and feel at speeds close to 100 mph.
- Seek shelter in a sturdy building avoid windows.
- If no shelter is available lay flat and cover your head for protection from injury.
- If in a vehicle seek protection as hail may break windows.
Although tornados generally occur in spring it is possible to encounter one any time of year or time of day. If in tornado prone areas monitor weather reports and be aware of how the watch or warning system works.
- Identify possible tornado. In addition to the classic funnel cloud look for dark, greenish clouds or clouds of debris already collected.
- Leave vehicle, campers, tents etc. You must take shelter in a sturdy building, staying clear of windows.
- Be prepared for flooding to occur in conjunction with the tornado.
- If outdoors find a depression, backside of hill or another natural break wall.
Good luck and safe adventuring!