Be a force of nature and Pledge to Prepare for severe weather that could happen in your area. Inspire others to act by being an example and telling them to take the pledge.
Every year, thousands of people are impacted by severe weather threats such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Preliminary data for 2012 shows there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries.
Every state in the U.S. has experienced tornadoes and severe weather, and although some more than others, everyone is at risk. You can take steps to prepare for when severe weather strikes in your area. Knowing the most common weather hazards in your area, your vulnerability, and what actions you should take can save your life and others.
National Severe Weather Preparedness Week 2013
- President Barack Obama (PDF)
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property before severe weather:
- Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car in case you are told to evacuate. This kit should also include a pair of goggles and disposable breathing masks for each member of the family.
- Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
- Continually monitor the media – Be aware of storm's which could impact your area.
- Know how you will be warned in an emergency (NOAA Weather radios with a tone alert are a good option).
- Know if you live or work in a flood prone area. Check with your local emergency management for details.
- Know where to shelter (ie: basement, interior room/hall, bathroom, closet, etc) if conditions warrant and where shelters in your area are located.
- Ensure your home is ready – Elevate items in the basement which could be flooded. Bring in outdoors items such as children's toys, patio furniture, garbage cans, etc which could be blown around and damaged. Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
- Know how to shut off utilities, including power, water and gas, to your home. Have proper tools (i.e.: wrench) ready and nearby.
- Find out what types of events and kinds of damages are covered by your insurance policy. Keep insurance policies, important documents and other valuables in a safe and secure location.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure everyone knows how to use them.
For additional information on what to do before severe weather, visit our other pages:
Know the terms used to describe severe weather
Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for 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 to those in the path of the storm.
Flood Watch - Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
Flash Flood Watch - Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
Flood Warning - Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning - A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property during severe weather:
- Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.
- Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Tornado danger signs included dark, almost greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-lying cloud or a load roar, similar to a freight train.
- Heed shelter or evacuation requests made by officials or announcements on radio/television.
- Gather family members, bring pets indoors and have your emergency supply kit ready.
- Close outside doors and window blinds, shades or curtains. Stay away from doors, windows and exterior walls. Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
- During lightning, do not use wired telephones, touch electrical appliances or use running water. Cordless or cellular telephones are safe to use.
- Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
- If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
- Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off your feet.
- Stay indoors and limit travel to only absolutely necessary trips. Listen to radio/television for updates.
For additional information on what to do before severe weather, visit our other pages:
Auto Safety Steps
Plan long trips carefully, listening to the radio or television for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions. If bad weather is forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary.
- Keep your gas tank full in case evacuation is needed. Keep your vehicle maintained and in good working order.
- Assemble an Emergency Car Kit including: flashlight with extra batteries, basic first-aid kit, necessary medications, pocket knife, booster cables, blanket/sleeping bag, extra clothes (including rain gear, gloves and socks), non-perishable foods, non-electric can opener, basic tool kit (pliers, wrench, screwdriver), tow rope, container of water and a brightly colored cloth to serve as a flag.
- Do not drive through a flooded area. Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control and possibly stall. A foot of water will float many vehicles. Cars, SUVs and pickup trucks can be swept away in just 2 feet of moving water. Do not drive around road barriers - they are there for a reason.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- 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.
- Use care around downed power lines. Assume a downed wire is a live wire. Report to emergency authorities.
- Watch out for overhead hazards such as broken tree limbs, wires and other debris. Be cautious walking around.
- Be aware of children playing outdoors and in the streets, particularly climbing on or running around downed trees and wires. Parents should remind their children to stay away from these hazards.
- Avoid walking into flood waters. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewerage, contain downed power lines or animals.
- Look for hazards such as broken/leaking gas lines, damaged sewage systems, flooded electrical circuits, submerged appliances and structural damage. Leave the area if you smell gas or chemical fumes.
- Clean everything that gets wet. For food, medicines and cosmetics; when in doubt, throw it out.
- Make sure backup generators are well ventilated. Never use grills, generators or camping stoves indoors.
- Listen to media reports and/or local authorities about whether your community water supply is safe to drink and other instructions.
- Make sure gutters and drains are clear for future rain/flood events.
- Take photographs/videos of damage as soon as possible. Contact your insurance company to file a claim.
National Severe Weather Preparedness Week 2013 - President Barack Obama (PDF)
Your friends, neighbors and colleagues are more likely to prepare for the various weather hazards that frequently impact the nation when they see those around them prepare, so inspire them to act by being an example yourself. The first step you can take is to Pledge to Prepare. The resources available provide tools for making your family and community, safer, more resilient, and better prepared.
The Pledge to Prepare toolkit includes a press release, talking points, blog post, and op-ed template as well as social media tools for use on your website or social networking pages. These tools are designed to be used as an individual or organization-based approach to preparedness to build a Weather-Ready nation.
As you pledge to prepare, please consider using the toolkit to be an example and invite your members, employees, constituents, customers, friends, family and community to Be a Force of Nature as well.
Community Weather Alerts Video
FEMA reminds everyone to become familiar with your community's public alert and warning system.
2012 National Severe Weather Preparedness Week
NOAA and FEMA ask that you Be A Force Of Nature. Know your risk, have a plan and an emergency kit, act promptly when warned and then spread the word to neighbors.