According to the National Weather Service, about 450 Americans were killed in weather related incidents in 2013. Severe and unpredictable weather is common in the Midwest, and the effects can be devastating. During fall months, storms, intense wind, flooding, and even snow can occur. September is Emergency Preparedness Month, and it is a great time to consider making plans in case you find yourself in an emergency.
The National Safety Council suggests keeping an emergency kit at home and in your car that contains basic needs to sustain your family for at least 72 hours. Your kit should include nonperishable food, water, a flashlight (with extra batteries), extra clothing, a tool kit, a first aid kit, and any other necessities you may need, such as blankets or utensils.
You should regularly check and update your kit. Also, you should know where important health documents are located, and make a plan that includes evacuation methods, places to seek shelter, emergency contact lists, and ways to stay safe in any situation.
The National Safety Council provides the following tips for staying safe in severe weather situations:
- Avoid contact with electrical equipment, cords, metal, and water during thunderstorms and lightning.
- Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid sheds, garages, or other small structures. Avoid open areas, such as hilltops, beaches, or open water.
- When driving in heavy rain, exit the roadway safely and find somewhere to park. Stay in your vehicle with the emergency flashers on until the rain subsides.
- Avoid driving near flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, safely evacuate the car and move to higher ground if you are able to.
- If there is a tornado, stay away from windows. Go into a basement, center hallway, bathroom, or closet. Cover yourself by going under something sturdy, such as a table, and cover yourself with a blanket or padding for protection.
- If you see a tornado while driving, stop your car. Lie flat in the nearest ditch or ravine, and cover your head with your hands.
Remember to stay informed, have a plan, and be prepared!