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Preparing for Severe Weather

Springtime in Texas often means severe weather, including thunderstorms and tornadoes, is back. While you can’t always predict when they’ll strike, it’s important to stay informed and protect yourself against potential severe weather threats in your area.

Here are some tips to make sure you and your family are prepared:

To begin, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. These are both simple and effective ways to help you and your family following a disaster. Ready.gov has some great resources available for building both an emergency kit and a family communications plan.

Thunderstorms and Lightning

Texas ranks among the top states for lightning injuries and fatalities each year. Lightning can occur up to 10 miles away from the storm and can be conducted through various types of surfaces including the ground. You don’t need to be directly hit to suffer injuries. Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors!

  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
  • Secure objects outdoors that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Stay indoors or inside a hard-top vehicle.
  • Secure outside doors and shutter windows. If you don’t have shuttesr, close blinds, shades and/or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronics before the storm begins.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires do not provide protection from lightning.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords as well as plumbing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.
  • Stay away from concrete floors and walls.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or small structures in open areas, such as dugouts.
  • Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around. Don’t drown!
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately!
  • Know the terms:
    Severe Thunderstorm Watch
    – Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay informed through Weather Radio or television for more information.
    Severe Thunderstorm Warning – Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property if you’re in the path of the storm.

More tornadoes strike in Texas than any other state. While they can occur all year, they are most frequent from mid-March through May. Take the following precautions when there’s a tornadic activity.

  • Take cover in an interior room on the lowest floor of your house, such as a bathroom, closet or room without windows. Cover yourself with cushions and/or mattresses.
  • In an office? Go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor?
  • Mobile home or manufactured office? Get out and take shelter in a nearby building.
  • No shelter close by? Lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms and listen to a weather radio or television.
  • Look for the following warning signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • Dark, large low-lying cloud (pay attention if it is rotating)
    • Loud roar that sounds like a freight train
  • Know the terms:
    Tornado Watch:
    Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area.
    Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted and indicated by weather radar. Seek shelter immediately!

(Information gathered from Ready.gov and Texas Department of Public Safety.)