(WFRV/WJMN) – Severe weather is nothing new, but it doesn’t happen on a regular basis so brushing up on the best safety tips to know exactly what to do could save a life.
Here are a few scenarios to follow if you get stuck in severe weather and basic tips to keep safe. All advice is taken from the Wisconsin Emergency Management page or local health/weather officials.
First, for every severe weather scenario, Wisconsin Emergency Management reports to not be in open water. If you are, it said you should leave immediately and find shelter.
If you are outside:
- Go to a low place, like a ravine or valley, or get inside a building or a car with a hard top as quickly as possible.
- If you are in a forest, find a low area under a lot of small trees.
WI Emergency Management explained if you can hear thunder, you can get struck by lightning.
Management officials explained if your hair feels like it is standing on end outside this indicates lightning is about to strike. You should squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet, place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees, minimize your contact it the ground, and DO NOT lie flat on the ground.
If you are inside:
- Close or shutter windows, close curtains/blinds, and secure outside doors.
- Do not take a bath or shower.
- Try not to use a corded telephone.
- Unplug appliances and other electrical items and turn off air conditioners.
Officials also remind residents to secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage during the storm.
Stay away from: Tall/isolated trees in open areas, hilltops, open fields, the beach, isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas, and anything metal.
If a flood is likely in your area and you are at home:
- Move essential items to an upper floor.
- Bring in your outdoor furniture.
- Disconnect electrical appliances.
- Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
If you have to leave your home:
- Do not walk through moving water. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving.
- Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
If you are driving:
- Do not drive in flooded areas.
- If water does rise around your car, officials said to leave your car and move to higher ground immediately.
WI Emergency Management said if there is any possibility of a flash flood, you need to move immediately to higher ground, too.
It explained that six inches of water are enough to trip a person and make cars lose control, a foot of water will float most vehicles, and two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.
If you are driving or walking during a tornado warning:
- Get inside a building. If you can’t, DHS recommended lying flat on your stomach in the nearest ditch, ravine, or culvert, and shielding your head with your hands.
- If your hair feels like it will stand on end, WI Emergency Management explained this indicates lightning is about to strike. You should squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet, place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees, minimize your contact it the ground, and DO NOT lie flat on the ground.
If you are inside a building when a warning goes off, you should:
- Go to the interior part of a basement. If you do not have a basement, go to the lowest floor of the building, sit in the middle of a room and avoid windows, doors, and outside walls. A stairwell or bathtub can serve as a good place to go, too.
- Do not stay in a mobile home during a tornado. DHS explained to go to a different building if you find yourself in a mobile home during a tornado watch/warning.
- Cover yourself with pillows or sit under a table.
“Something as simple as having your bicycle helmet stored in your basement so that if that’s where you go during a tornado you could wear it. That might sound odd to some people but one of the most likely causes of being hurt during severe weather is damage to your head and your neck,” explained Brown County Emergency Management Director Lauri Maki. “Wearing shoes, too. People might run to their basement and not have shoes on.”
For more tips on tornado preparedness, click here.
Basic tips to keep in mind
“We suggest you have a three-day supply of food and water for each person that lives in your house including your pets,” Paula Rieder, the Outagamie County Emergency Management Director.
Meteorologists also suggest you have multiple ways to get information about severe weather. Rather than just a traditional TV or radio station outlet, include having weather apps on your phone with push notifications turned on, an NOAA weather radio, or following along certain sites on social media.
In the event of power outages, report them to your area provider.
The State of Michigan has provided safety advice in the event of a power outage:
Before a power outage:
- Check flashlights and battery-powered portable radios to ensure that they are working, and you have extra batteries. A radio is an important source for obtaining weather and emergency information during a storm.
- Have sufficient heating fuel, as regular sources may be cut off. Have emergency heating source and fuel—such as a gas fireplace, wood burning stove or fireplace—so you can keep at least one room livable. Be sure the room is well ventilated.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep cold air out.
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
- Know how to shut off water valves.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
- Fill your bathtub and spare containers with water if your water supply could be affected, such as a well-water pump system. Water in the bathtub should be used for sanitation purposes only, not as drinking water. Pouring a pail of water from the tub directly into the bowl can flush a toilet.
- Check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage if you have medication that requires refrigeration.
- Review the process for manually operating an electric garage door.
During a power outage:
- Dress for the season, wearing several layers of loose fitting, light-weight, warm clothing, rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens are better than gloves.
- Wear a hat—most body heat is lost through the top of the head.
- Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove any wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages, if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
- Protect against possible voltage irregularities that can occur when power is restored, unplug all sensitive electronic equipment, including TVs, stereos, and computer.
- Use gasoline-powered generators with caution. Never run a generator inside a house. Place it outside with exhaust facing away from the home.
After a power outage:
- Be extra cautious if you go outside to inspect for damage after a storm. Downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by snowdrifts, trees or debris, and could be live. Never attempt to touch or move downed lines. Keep children and pets away from them. Always stay 25 feet away from downed power lines.
- Check on neighbors, especially senior citizens and individuals with functional needs.
- Do not touch anything power lines are touching, such as tree branches or fences. Always assume a downed line is a live line. Call your utility company to report any outage-related problem.
- Never call 9-1-1 to ask about a power outage.
When it comes to driving on ice and snow, it’s nothing new for winter driving in the U.P., but Michigan State Police do have some helpful advice of their own to make sure if you absolutely have to drive this weekend, that you make the trip as safely as possible.