Info from the Emergency Management Task Force-Borough of Camp Hill
Severe Weather Safety Tips – to Save Your Life
Helping to save lives one tip at a time
Fact: Hundreds of people die each year in the United States due to heat waves, hurricanes, lightning, flash floods, powerful thunderstorm winds, and winter storms or winter cold. Additionally, thousands of people are injured by these weather events each year.
Fact: If you are aware of what weather event is about to impact your area, you are more likely to survive such an event. To stay on top of the weather, utilize NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receiver units that can be purchased at most electronic stores. Make sure the model you purchase has a battery-backup. The programmable types allow you to selectively screen out those county warnings you are not interested in. Most homes have a smoke detector; shouldn’t your home also have a weather radio?
You should also obtain the latest weather information from commercial TV/radio, cable TV, the internet/web and newspapers.
Lightning Safety Tips:
- Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. Lightning can travel 5-10 miles away from the thunderstorm and strike the ground with blue sky overhead. The storm doesn’t have to be overhead in order for you to be struck.
- Move to a sturdy shelter or vehicle. Do not take shelter in a small shed, under isolated trees, or in a convertible-top vehicle. Stay away from tall objects such as trees or towers or poles.
- If in your vehicle when lightning strikes – don’t touch a metal surface. You are safer in a vehicle than being outdoors.
- Remember that utility lines or pipes can carry the electrical current underground or through a building. Avoid electrical appliances, and use telephones or computers only in an emergency.
- If you feel your hair standing on end – get down into a baseball catcher’s position and plug your ears with your fingertips so if lightning does hit it will not blow your ear drums out. Do not lie flat.
- 30/30 rule – if the time between lighting and thunder is 30 seconds or less, go to a safe shelter. Stay there until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
Flash Flood/Flood Safety Tips:
- Nearly half of all fatalities in a flash flood involve a person driving a vehicle. Do not drive into a flooded area – Turn Around, Don’t Drown! It takes only 2 feet of water to float away most cars.
- It takes only 6 inches of fast-moving water to sweep a person off their feet – don’t walk through a flooded area.
- If you are camping in a river valley, move to higher ground if thunderstorms with heavy rains are in the area. Do not attempt to drive away.
- Don’t operate electrical tools in flooded areas.
- Most flash flood deaths occur in the middle of the night when it is more difficult to see rising water levels.
Severe Thunderstorm Straight-line Winds:
- Don’t underestimate the power of strong thunderstorm winds known as straight-line winds – they can reach speeds of 100 to 150 mph. Hurricane-force winds start at 74 mph. Pennsylvania does experience these kinds of winds.
- If a severe thunderstorm warning contains hurricane-force wind speeds seek shelter immediately (as you would for a tornado situation).
- Stay away from windows and go to the basement or interior room/hallway. Do not use electrical appliances.
- Be aware that tall trees near a building can be uprooted by straight-line winds – that tree can come crashing through the roof of a home and crush a person.
- Powerful straight-line winds can overturn a vehicle or even make a person air-borne when they get up over 100 mph.
- One type of a straight-line wind event is a downburst, which is a small area of rapidly descending rain-cooled air and rain beneath a thunderstorm. A downburst can cause damage equivalent to a strong tornado.