Preparedness Tips

snow & ice | heat | tornado | thunderstorms | hurricanes | flooding | disaster kit

Snow and Ice

  • Winter storm watch – severe winter weather conditions may affect your area.
  • Winter storm warning – severe winter weather conditions are imminent.
  • Blizzard warning – large amounts of falling or blowing snow and winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected to last for several hours. Visibility is dangerously restricted.
  • Wind chill – the effect of wind, in combination with actual temperature, which increases the rate of heat loss to the human body. Also the temperature at which exposed skin suffers frostbite within a short period of time.
  • If you are under shelter:
    • Remember to service snow removal equipment. Stay inside – avoid driving in dangerous snow or ice.
  • If you are outdoors:
    • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts added strain on the heart. Shoveling or pushing a car can cause a heart attack.
  • If you re in a vehicle:
    • Stay in your car. DO NOT leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless assistance is visible within 100 feet. You can become disoriented and lost in blowing snow.
    • Display a trouble sign. Hang a bright colored cloth on the car radio antenna, raise the hood and turn on flashing hazard lights.
    • Occasionally run the engine to keep warm. Keep the window slightly open and beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear.

Summer (Hot and Humid)

  • Wear sunblock and protective clothing to prevent sunburn, skin caner and premature aging.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Avoid strenuous activity in hot weather.
  • On very hot days, stay in air-conditioned shelter.


  • Tornado watch – conditions are favorable over a large area for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes to develop.
  • Tornado warning – a tornado has been detected or seen, is on the ground and is moving and is expected to move through your area soon. You should TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY.
  • Environmental clues to look for
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • Wall cloud
    • Loud roar, similar to that of a freight train
  • If you are outdoors:
    • Seek shelter in a substantial building immediately. It there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head. DO NOT try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately and seek shelter.
    • Avoid all downed power lines. Assume they are live with electricity.
  • If you are at home or in a small building:
    • Go to the lowest floor. Stay away from windows. Closets, bathrooms and other interior rooms offer the best protection. Get under something sturdy or cover yourself with a mattress.
  • If you are in a school, hospital or shopping center:
    • Go to a pre-designated shelter area. Stay away from large open areas and windows. DO NOT go outside to your car.
  • If you are in a high rise building:
    • Go to an interior small room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. DO NOT use the elevators. Use the stairs.
  • If you are in a mobile home or vehicle:
    • Get out! Mobile homes and vehicles are easily tossed about by strong winds in the tornado. Take shelter in a substantial structure. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head.


  • Severe thunderstorm watch: severe thunderstorms are possible in and close to the watch area.
  • Severe thunderstorm warning: a severe thunderstorm has been spotted and is going to move through your county soon.
  • If you are outdoors:
    • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
    • Move to a sturdy building or car. DO NOT take shelter in small sheds, under isolated trees, near fences, poles or in convertible automobiles. Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
    • If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.
    • If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands on your knees and your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible; minimize your contact with the ground. If lightning occurs and sturdy shelter is not available, get inside a hard top automobile and keep the windows up.
    • Get out of boats and away from water.
    • Stay away from telephone lines and metal pipes, which can conduct electricity.
  • If you are under shelter:
    • DO NOT take a bath or shower.
    • Turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressors.
    • Unplug appliances not necessary for obtaining weather information. Use the telephone only for emergencies.


  • Hurricane watch – conditions are possible in the specified area, usually within 36 hours.
  • Hurricane warning – conditions are expected in the specified area, usually with 24 hours.
  • Tips
    • Learn safe routes inland and the location of official shelters. Fuel and service vehicles.
    • Put up storm shutters and store loose objects. Brace exterior doors. Close all interior doors.
    • Set refrigerator to maximum cold. Open only when necessary.
    • Stay away from windows and doors. If you are in a multi-story dwelling, go to the lowest floor. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, hallway, or under a table.
    • If you are told to leave your home, do so! Plan to evacuate if you live in a mobile home, high-rise, on the coastline or offshore island, or near a river or flood plain.


  • If you are outdoors:
    • Get to higher ground. Watch out for washed out roads, earth slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electric wires and falling or fallen objects.
    • DO NOT attempt to drive over a flooded road. Most flash flooding deaths occur in automobiles.
  • If you are under shelter:
    • Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels.
    • Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.
    • If you are in a multi-story swelling, move essential items and furniture to upper floors.
    • Disconnect electric appliances that can’t be moved. DO NOT touch them if you are wet or standing in water.

Family disaster kit:

  • Flashlights
  • Battery operated radio
  • Emergency food, water
  • Extra blankets, sleeping bag
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Extra batteries
  • Essential medicines
  • Manual can opener
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency heating equipment