Jul 102013

This is why we suspend games during storms.

This is why we suspend games during storms.

The Orange CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) would like everyone to be aware of important information on Thunderstorm safety.  As you are aware, we are in the middle of summer storm season, and severe weather warnings are issued frequently.

We all see the thunderstorm warnings and watches posted, but do you know the difference?  To clarify, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch tells you where they are likely to occur.  A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters on the ground or indicated by radar.  Warnings indicate imminent danger to those areas in the path of the storm.

Here are a few simple guidelines to follow BEFORE a thunderstorm strikes:

‚  Know the county you live in and the names of the major nearby cities or towns.  Severe weather warnings are issued by county and major cities.

‚  Check the latest forecast and weather outlook and watch for signs of an approaching thunderstorm outside your window.

‚  If a storm is approaching, keep a battery powered AM/FM radio or a radio with the National Weather Service frequency with you.

‚  Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent.  This is your best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.

When thunderstorms approach:

‚  If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.  Seek  safe shelter immediately, in a sturdy building car (not a convertible).

‚ Remember, rubber soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning.  However, the steel frame of a hard-topped car provides increased protection, if you are not touching metal.

‚  Secure objects that may blow away and cause damage.  Close windows, blinds, curtains and secure outside doors.

‚  Avoid showering or bathing.  Plumbing and bathroom fixtures conduct electricity.

‚  Use a corded telephone ONLY for emergencies.  Cordless and cellular phones are safe to use.

‚  Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and air conditioners.  Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.

‚  Listen to battery operated radio for weather updates and related information.

If you are caught outside and no shelter is available, find a low spot away from isolated trees, fences or poles.  Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet, place hands on your knees with your head between them, making yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground.

If by chance your home is struck by lightning, move yourself and your loved ones to a safe spot and immediately call 9-1-1, for the Fire Department to respond, even if you don’t see fire from the strike at first.  Lightning strikes can cause severe damage to the home and surroundings, and will often travel inside the walls, hiding the immediate fire danger from view.

Your Fire Department has the equipment and training to detect and handle these situations and emergencies safely.  It is also a good practice to install battery powered smoke detectors in your home, one on every level, outside each sleeping area.

If your home loses power during a storm, your hard-wired smoke detectors and fire alarms will not function.  If you have any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact your local Fire Marshal’s Office.

Orange CERT hopes you find this information helpful.  CERT is dedicated to assisting the community in both emergency and non-emergency situations.  Please look for our next public education article on Blackout Safety in an upcoming edition.  For more information on Orange CERT, please visit: www.cert-orange.org

— This is a press release from CERT.

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