Severe Weather Safety Tips


  • In homes:  Go to the basement and get under the stairway or under a heavy piece of furniture.  If there is no basement go to a small interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet, bathroom or hallway.  Stay away from windows.
  • In schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and public buildings:  Go to small interior rooms or halls on the lowest floor.  Avoid large rooms such as gymnasiums or auditoriums.  In high rise buildings, go to small interior rooms or halls.  Stay away from windows in all cases.
  • In mobile homes and vehicles:  As soon as a Tornado Watch is issued, go to a nearby substantial structure.  If a tornado is already approaching and there is not time to get to a place of safety, exit the mobile home or vehicle and lie flat on the ground in a low spot or ditch.  33% of all tornado deaths occur in moble homes.



  • Planning ahead can help you avoid dangerous lightning situations.  Check the latest forecast before going outdoors for extended periods.  Seek shelter indoors when storms approach.
  • Use the "Flash to Bang" to determine the lightning threat.  When you see a flash of lightning, count the seconds until you hear the thunder.  Divide by five and the result is the number of miles you are away from the lightning.
  • Most lightning casualties occur at the beginning and end of a storm.  Pay more attention to the lightning than to the rain when determining when to stop outdoor activity and seek shelter.  Use the 30-30 rule.  Using the flash to bang method, if the thunder occurs within 30 seconds of the lightning, it is close enough to be dangerous.  Stop outdoor activity and get inside.  Do not resume outdoor activity until 30 minutes after the last lightning or thunder.
  • In a home or building, avoid using the telephone or electrical appliances.  Do not take a shower as metal pipes can conduct electricity.  Generally, you are safe from lightning inside an inclosed vehicle.
  • Get off of motorcycles, golf carts, bicycles, and metal farm equipment.
  • If caught outdoors and no shelter is available, find a low spot away from trees, poles, and fences.  Standing out in the open is dangerous.  If you're the tallest thing around, crouch down, but don't lie flat.  The idea is to make yourself shorter than surrounding features.  If you cannot reach a building, a car also offers good protection.
  • If you are swimming or boating, get out of the water immediately!  Water is one of nature's best conductors of electricity.
  • You can help someone who has been struck by lightning without worrying about being hurt yourself.  The National Weather Service says persons who have been struck by lightning may have received a severe electrical shock and may be burned, but they carry no electrical charge.  So they can be handled safely.


  • If you live or work near a stream, creek, drainage ditch, or low lying flood prone area, get to higher ground if a Flash Flood Warning is issued for your area.
  • Never allow children to play in or near flooded area of storm drains.
  • Do not drive through flooded roads, especially if water is moving rapidly.  You may not know how deep the water is or the condition of the road underneath.  Often, roads become washed out under rapidly moving flood water.  As little as two feet of moving water can cause a vehicle to become buoyant and out of control.  If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Be especially careful at night.  Many flash floods occur at night when it is difficult to see standing water on roads or to judge the depth of flood waters on a road.