No matter where you live, you can be affected by hazardous weather conditions. From hurricanes on the coast, to tornadoes on the planes, snowstorms in the mountains, and thunderstorms along the gulf, it is important to keep a sharp eye on Mother Nature.
A little information gathering and preparation can go a long way toward keeping you and your family out of harm’s way. Your best bet is to expand your knowledge of the dangerous weather conditions frequently seen where you live, as well as where you travel. Following are five things you can do to help ensure safety when you encountering severe weather.
Educate Yourself – When you don’t know what you don’t know about severe weather, you are taking unnecessary risks. There are numerous resources available that can outline the various forms of dangerous weather conditions, what regions of the country they typically occur, how to prepare for them, and what to do when severe weather strikes.
A great resource is the National Weather Service (NWS), which is part of the United States Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An excellent place to start is by visiting their weather safety page where you can read up on virtually any type of severe weather phenomenon, from lightning safety, to floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and more. Here you will find a wealth of practical information, statistics, safety videos, and more.
Tune in to Severe Weather Alerts – Knowledge is power and when weather conditions look like they might take a turn for the worst, severe weather alerts can arm you with up-to-the-minute information to help you make better decisions.
A great option is to purchase a NOAA Weather Alert Radio. Inexpensive and easy to use, they will tune into severe weather alerts broadcast by NOAA and NWS, and usually other sources like Weatheradio Canada. As an added bonus, some models also pick up non-weather-related emergency updates, such as those broadcast by the United States Department of Defense (DOD). To ensure you only receive updates specific to where you are, most models let you enter a location-based code, which eliminates broadcasts that don’t pertain to you. Another nice feature is that most NOAA weather alert radios can be powered by either a wall outlet or by batteries, so you keep getting updates even in the event of a power outage.
Use Weather Instruments to Measure Your Local Conditions – While NOAA weather alert radios are great for regional updates, you can stay informed of conditions in your exact location by taking advantage of technology that monitors your immediate environment. Here are some examples:
- Lightning Detector - This is an excellent tool to enhance lightning safety by detecting activity much farther away than we can detect using our eyes and our ears. This, in turn, provides additional advanced warning to seek shelter.
- Personal Weather Station – A weather station installed on your property can provide a wealth of information and insights into potential severe weather conditions:
- Drop in Barometric Pressure – A drop in pressure is often an indication that a storm is coming.
- Excessive Rainfall – Tracking rainfall totals during a storm can help you determine if it has rained enough for flooding to become a possibility.
- Wind Speed Meter/Anemometer – Many weather stations can also provide alerts of dangerously high wind and gusts.
- My AcuRite App – These can augment your personal weather station by streaming your weather sensor readings to your phone, tablet, or web browser. The advantage of this is that the weather app can deliver even more advanced warning in the form of text and email alerts, providing additional time to take action.
Make an Emergency Action Plan – Learning that severe weather is headed your way is only half the battle. Knowing what to do is just as important.
To create an emergency action plan for your family, visit https://www.ready.gov/severe-weather as well as https://community.fema.gov/. Here you will find a variety of resources and templates to help you stock up on the right supplies, identify the best locations to seek shelter, and put together plans that are tailored to your home and typical weather patterns in your region.
Think Ahead – Even when armed with knowledge and an emergency action plan, it’s better to avoid dangerous weather conditions altogether. Particularly when traveling or planning an outdoor adventure, keep tabs on weather forecasts in the days leading up to your trip or event. If severe weather seems likely, change your plans accordingly.
Additionally, if you live in areas which commonly experience severe weather, such as hurricane-prone coastlines, take heed of warnings from authorities and evacuate the area when advised to do so.
Related: NOAA Weather Radio