Charleston — The American Red Cross West Virginia Region would like to remind the public of safety procedures to take before, during and after severe weather including thunderstorms which cause power outages. It is essential to keep an eye on the local weather to determine if a severe thunderstorm watch, which means severe thunderstorms are possible, or a severe thunderstorm warning, which means severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar which indicates imminent danger to life and property in your area.
Before the storm you can prepare by learning about your community’s emergency warning systems for severe weather, pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a storm away from windows, skylights or glass doors, make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a severe thunderstorm, put together an emergency preparedness kit, and ensure a secure location for all pets and animals. In case of power outages to preserve food keep available coolers, ice and a thermometer to check internal temperatures for food to ensure they are cold enough to safely use.
During the storm you should listen to local news or NOAA weather radio for emergency updates and keep an eye out for darkening skies, lightening flashes or increased winds. Postpone outdoor activities if possible. Take shelter in a secure building if a warning is issued. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightening. The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least thirty minutes after the last thunder clap. Avoid electrical equipment and telephones, stay away from windows, and do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing. If power outages are expected, turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment including sensitive electronics. Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out to ensure no surges or spikes when power returns to ensure no equipment damage. Leave one light on so you’ll know when the power comes back on. When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator and ensure it is properly ventilated.
After the storm, stay away from storm damaged areas and continue to listen to the radio or television stations. Remember never to drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don’t drown! Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and elderly or disabled. Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately. If power outage has occurred, do not touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them. Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 or higher for two hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out! Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate units away from doors, windows or vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
If your community experiences a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website available through www.redcross.org to let your family and friends know about your welfare. If you don’t have internet access, call 1-866-GET-INFO to register yourself and your family.