During The Storm
What To Do During A Thunderstorm
After getting inside a home or building:
- Avoid showering or bathing and any contact with plumbing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity. Do not wash your hands, wash dishes or do laundry.
- Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use. Use a corded telephone only for emergencies.
- Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Because concrete conducts electricity, do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
- Everyone should stay indoors until 30 minutes after they hear the last clap of thunder.
If you find yourself outside when a thunderstorm hits, avoid the following:
- Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
- Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
- Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
- Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
- Anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
If you are in certain situations, do the following:
- In a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
- In an open area, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
- On open water, get to land and find shelter immediately.
- Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike), squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees.
What To Do During A Tornado
In the Midwest, tornado season lasts from mid-March through late June. Most tornadoes happen between noon and midnight. Be on the lookout for the signs of a tornado — including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; an approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar—similar to a freight train — and take cover IMMEDIATELY!
Seek shelter in a basement or storm cellar; if you are in a building with no basement, head to a small interior room on the lowest level. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls, and use your arms to protect your head or neck from flying debris.
If you are in your car during a tornado:
Avoid stopping under an overpass or bridge. If the tornado is far away, it’s recommended that you reroute to a sturdy shelter ASAP (i.e. truck stops, convenience stores, restaurants, walk-in coolers). If the threat is imminent, get as far away from your car as possible and find a ditch or low spot to take cover. If you can’t leave your vehicle, keep your seatbelt on and cover your head (with a blanket if possible) and stay below the windshield and windows to protect yourself from shattered glass.
What To Do During A Severe Winter Storm
- Listen to radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
- Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary. Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly. Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately. Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside and take frequent breaks.
- Drive only if absolutely necessary. If you must drive, consider the following: Check the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Web site for road conditions: www.modot.mo.gov or call the Missouri Road Condition Report line at 888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636). Travel in the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule. Stay on main roads, avoid back road shortcuts. If you need assistance while on the road, or need to report and accident, broken down car, or vehicle off the road, call the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Emergency report line by dialing *55 on your cell phone. It connects you to the nearest MSHP troop headquarters. From a land line call (800) 525-5555.
- If a blizzard traps you in the car: Pull off the highway, turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window. Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful: distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow. Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open an upwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with others in the vehicle and use your coat for a blanket. Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews. Drink fluids to avoid dehydration. Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs - the use of lights, heat, and radio - with supply. Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you. If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area, spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area in the air. Leave the car and proceed on foot - if necessary - once the blizzard passes.
- If you do not have heat in your residence temporarily close off some rooms and remain in one area of the residence. Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid a build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects. Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol. If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).