Growing up in the 70s in NH, I do not recall having to worry about severe weather. A snow storm, even a blizzard - yes, but severe lightning, hail, tornadoes just weren't something I remember even thinking about. Perhaps it was simply being a kid and not having to worry, but now that I am an adult, and a mother, with warnings and alerts streaming over our phones real-time, it is impossible to escape being worried.
As many of us New Englanders are not used to thinking about severe storms, especially tornadoes, I thought it was a good time to highlight some safety tips in case needed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Top 5 Tornado Safety Tips:
- If you suspect a storm coming, keep in-the-know by tuning into local radio or television. Many smart phone applications offer automatic alerts to severe weather approaching, which is extremely helpful considering most injuries occur to those caught outside in severe weather.
- The safest place to be is an underground shelter or basement. If not available, a small windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
- It is recommended that mobile homes be evacuated during a tornado and seek alternate shelter.
- If seeking shelter indoors is not an option, immediately go into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- If debris begins to fly while driving, and finding shelter is not possible, pull over and park. Stay in your vehicle and keep your seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows and cover your head with your hands or blanket if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the lever of the roadway, exit your vehicle and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
Top 4 Myths Regarding Lightning:
Myth 1: There is no danger of lightning if it is not raining.
Fact: Lightning can occur as far as 10 miles away from rainfall.
Myth 2: Rubber-soled shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being struck by lightning.
Fact: Rubber-soled shoes or tires do not provide any protection from lightning. It is the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle that is providing the protection, as long as you are not touching the metal. You can still be injured if lightning strikes your vehicle, but you are safer inside a car than outside.
Myth 3: You should never touch someone who has been struck by lightning because they carry an electrical charge.
Fact: According to NOAA, lightning-strike victims do not carry an electrical charge and should be helped immediately by professional medical care. Call 9-1-1 and start CPR or use Automatic External Defibrillator if available, if person has stopped breathing.
Myth 4: There is no threat with "heat lightning."
Fact: "Heat lightning" is still lightning and is often used to describe lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard.
Severe weather can occur very quickly without a lot of warning. Last year my husband and I were less than 3 miles from home, when an alert came over our phones indicating a possible tornado in Hollis, NH. We immediately headed home and within one minute the driving rain blinded our vision and winds bent the trees horizontally. I literally expected our car to be thrown off the road. This fear was real and I felt helpless. Knowledge is power, so hopefully with some of these facts, you can be ready for the next big storm.