During severe weather:

  • Keep an eye on the sky: look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder; if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. 
  • Find suitable shelter from the storm in indoors to avoid blowing debris, hail and lightning. Do not leave shelter until 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder. Bring your pets indoors with you.
  • Have any emergency supplies at the ready if the storm continues to intensify.
  • During lightning, do not use wired telephones, plugged in electrical appliances or running water. Cordless devices and unplugged cellphones are safe to use.
  • If outdoors, head for shelter indoors or inside a vehicle. If boating or swimming, get out of the water immediately and find shelter. If no suitable shelter is readily available, find lower ground away from isolated trees and bodies of water. 
  • Stay indoors and limit travel to only emergency trips. Check local news and social media for weather updates. 

After severe weather:

  • Stay off roads to allow emergency crews to clear roads and provide emergency assistance.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.
  • Use the telephone only for emergencies, as local lines will likely be busy.
  • Use care around downed power lines: assume a downed wire is a live wire and resport damaged utilities to emergency authorities.
  • Do not drive through a flooded area. A foot of water will float many vehicles and cars, SUVs and pickup trucks can be swept away in just 2 feet of moving water. Do not drive around road barriers; their purpose is to keep you safe.
  • Watch out for overhead hazards such as broken tree limbs, wires and other debris. 
  • Avoid walking into flood waters. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewerage, or contain downed power lines.

Prepare for severe weather: 

  • Continually monitor news updates, keeping aware of storms that will impact your area. 
  • Know how to shut off power, water and gas to your home. Have proper tools (i.e. wrench) on hand.
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as an emergency contact; after a disaster, it is often easier to reach long distance contacts.
  • Find out what types of events and damages are covered by your insurance policy. Keep insurance policies, important documents and other valuables in a safe and secure location.
  • Have an Emergency Supply Kit prepared on which your household is able to survive at least three days without leaving your home. 
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure everyone knows how to use them.

Know the terms used by weather forecasters:

Severe Thunderstorm - A thunderstorm that produces high winds, heavy rain, lightning, and possibly hail.

Flash Flood - A flood which is caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than 6 hours. 

Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. Listen to the media for updates.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Tells you there is a possibility of severe thunderstorms in your area likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to know when warnings are issued.

Flash Flood Watch – Flash flooding is possible in and close to the watch area, but the occurrence is neither certain or imminent. 

Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning - A severe thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon in your area. Seek shelter immediately.

Flash Flood Warning - Flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely. Seek higher ground immediately or evacuate if directed to do so.

Additional Weather Preparedness Information: