Severe Weather Awareness Week-Weather Safety

Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 8–14, 2018. April is also when thunderstorms and tornadoes can start to be more common. This April, everyone should make sure they know what to do to stay safe during severe weather.

In Michigan, two of the biggest non–winter weather threats are thunderstorms and tornadoes. Between 1959 and 2015, there were 108 deaths caused by lightning in Michigan. On average, Michigan has 15 tornadoes per year. Since 1950, tornadoes have caused 243 deaths in Michigan.

Knowing what to do before severe weather happens is key to safety. “Having an emergency plan and an emergency kit for your household can help you be prepared for and know what to do in severe weather. This can help you get to safety more quickly,” said Clarissa Boggs-Blake, emergency preparedness coordinator at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.

Residents should sign up to receive text or e-mail weather alerts from local media, a weather provider, or through an app and know the difference between a weather “watch” and “warning.” A watch means that conditions are right for severe weather to possibly occur; a warning means that severe weather has happened or will happen very soon. When there is a watch or a warning, residents should turn on the weather or a local news radio or TV station a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials to keep up to date on storm information. Residents should follow these tips:

Thunderstorm Warning

  • Unplug electronics before the storm arrives. During the storm, do not touch anything plugged or wired into the wall, including telephones. Avoid using household plumbing (like sinks, showers, toilets, washers) and lying/leaning on concrete floors or walls, as these can conduct electricity.
  • When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! Take shelter right away inside a sturdy building, away from windows and doors. If there are no buildings nearby, shelter in a hard-topped vehicle. Stay inside for 30 minutes after the last thunder or lightning.
  • Do not touch metal objects (farm equipment, golf carts, golf clubs, bicycles, etc.).
  • (If outside during a storm with no nearby shelter) Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach, and boats on the water. Avoid natural lightning rods like tall, isolated trees in open areas. For more information on how to help stay safe from lightning while outside, see https://bit.ly/2GPzqb8.
  • (If driving) Find a safe spot to park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers if there is heavy rain. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

Tornado Warning

  • If a Tornado is Around, Get Low to the Ground! Right away, go inside the nearest sturdy building (not a trailer or mobile home). Go to a small, windowless interior room in the lowest area of the building, preferably in a basement (put as many walls as possible between you and the tornado).
  • Get under a sturdy table and cover your head and neck with your arms and your body as best as you can (e.g., with a heavy coat, blankets, pillows).
  • (If in a car or outside with no nearby shelter) There is no best answer for how to take shelter outside of a sturdy building. Options can include: Buckle up and drive to the nearest shelter if it is safe. If there’s no nearby shelter, buckle up in a parked vehicle and cover your head with your arms, cushions, and/or a blanket. Avoid going under overpasses and bridges. Low, flat locations are best.

After a Severe Weather Event:

  • Avoid downed power lines, utility poles, and trees.
  • Avoid coming into contact with standing water—it could be electrically charged or carry harmful germs.
  • (If power is lost) Never use a charcoal grill or a generator indoors or in a garage. The carbon monoxide that these give off can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • (If power is lost) Follow the FDA’s instructions to ensure food safety: http://bit.ly/2nPwtg6.

For more information on preparing for and staying safe during severe weather events, including thunderstorms, floods, windstorms, and tornadoes, visit www.ready.gov.

Article posted on April 12th, 2018.