Our Spring severe weather season will soon be underway in the Valley, and this is severe weather awareness week.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s a good idea to review (or create) a severe weather plan for you and your family to keep everyone safe. Let’s review some of the best practices.
For starters, the safest place to ride out a tornado or severe thunderstorm is in a basement or storm shelter. If neither one is immediately available to you, and you are in a wood frame house…get to the lowest level of the home and into an interior room.
Storm winds will get stronger with height, so you want to be as low to the ground as possible. The goal here is to be in a windowless room and to put as many walls between you and the outside as you can. Think interior hallway closet or a bathroom.
Be prepared for falling debris…and for that reason, don’t seek shelter under or near heavy objects. Bricks from a chimney can collapse and heavy appliances will be thrown about. In a two-story home, the closet under a staircase can be a good place to ride out a storm.
Protect yourself…especially your head and neck…from flying debris any way you can. If the kids have bike or sports helmets, put them on…you can use pillows or cushions to shield yourself as well.
If you live in an apartment complex or dorm room, plan ahead and know where you’ll go in the event severe weather threatens. Get to the lowest floor and find a central room without windows…again, you want to put as many walls between you and the approaching storm as possible. Do not use the elevator as a power outage could leave you stuck in harm’s way.
If you are in a mobile home, you need to find a stronger shelter. Mobile homes could become airborne and thrown hundreds of feet. If you don’t have a neighbor’s or friend’s house to go to, you can head to a public storm shelter. If there’s not enough time for that, you should abandon the mobile home and lie flat in a low spot covering your head.
Here’s a link to a map of storm shelters in the TN Valley.
If you’re at a school, at work in an office building, or at a shopping center…you want to take similar action to someone living in an apartment complex. Get to the lowest level of the structure and do not use the elevator. Find an interior room in the central part of the building…preferably without windows. Avoid large rooms and areas near an exterior wall. If the building has an interior stairwell, that would be a good place to go.
If you are travelling, the safest thing to do is get off the road and find a suitable, safe shelter. If none is available, get out of the car and lie flat in a ditch covering your head.
Do not seek shelter under an overpass as the tornado’s wind could actually get stronger under the bridge.
If you’re seeing flying debris, it’s too late to get out, and you would likely be safer staying in the car. In that case; put the car in park, keep your seatbelt fastened, and duck below the windows while covering your head and neck.
The best way to stay safe is to keep yourself informed as dangerous storms approach. You can get up-to-the-minute information using our free First Alert weather app. To download, text WAFFAPPS to 24-24-7. You’ll have access to our live radar and video updates from our First Alert Meteorologists. The app will also alert you to any warnings that are issued for your location.
Another great resource is a NOAA weather radio. It can alert you as warnings are issued as well. Do not rely on outdoor tornado sirens to wake you up at night…or even warn you during the day.
Of course you can watch our storm coverage on WAFF-48. If you lose power, our coverage will be on the weather app, or you can listen to our radio partners.
With severe weather season right around the corner, now is the time to get prepared.
-Meteorologist David Ernst