Spring weather can change quickly and bring volatile storms with tornadoes, heavy rains, high winds, and lightning. To be prepared and stay ahead of the danger, it is important to check weather forecasts and stay up-to-date on weather conditions. One way to do so is through handheld devices and the weather resources that they provide.
One weather alert you can subscribe to is the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). These notifications are sent much like a text message to all subscribers’ WEA-enabled devices. The messages are authorized alerts sent from government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service (NWS).
The types of alerts include extreme weather warnings and local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action. After receiving an alert, follow the action advised by the emergency message. Get more information from a news website or station or by turning on your weather radio.
You can take additional precautions by installing a weather safety app so you can receive up-to-date weather information at all times. NOAA Weather Radar shares official NWS information on warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazards 24/7 with coverage in 96 percent of the country. Some of the other free applications that you can download onto your mobile device include:
- The Red Cross offers an app that allows you to monitor 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.
- The Weather Underground App is a network of personal weather stations. Users can submit their own weather observations alongside the professional forecasts.
- The Weather Channel also has an application that provides all of the information from their television station at your fingertips on your mobile device.
The National Weather Service recommends that you:
- Know the county you are located in and nearby towns and cities. Warnings are issued by county and reference major cities.
- Know the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and warning. A watch means there is the possibility of storms, and a warning means a storm has been reported and you should take cover.
- Check the forecast and the hazardous weather outlook.
- Watch for signs of an approaching storm.
- Turn on a weather radio or an AM/FM radio for information if a storm is approaching.
- Stay inside if you know a storm is headed your way.
Additional precautions to help keep you and your family safe include:
- Create an emergency preparedness kit, including necessary supplies such as water, food, flashlight, batteries, blankets and a first aid kit. A full list of suggested items can be found at SafeElectricity.org.
- Develop a family communication plan with a meeting space in case of a disaster.
- If you come across downed power lines after a storm, call 911 to have the utility notified immediately. Never touch downed lines or objects that could be in contact with those lines. Just because power lines are damaged does not mean that they are dead. Stay away, and instruct others to do the same.
Make sure to plan ahead so you do not get caught outside in a storm. If you are inside when a storm hits, stay inside. Keep away from windows and go to the lowest level of your home. If you do get caught outdoors during a storm and are unable to take shelter in a building, try to take shelter in an enclosed vehicle with a hard-top roof—not an open-frame vehicle like a convertible.
If you are outside during a tornado and you cannot find shelter, do not take cover in a vehicle or under a highway overpass. Find a ditch or ravine, lie flat, and clasp your hands behind your head to protect yourself from flying debris.
Learn more at SafeElectricity.org.