Severe weather season is here – get Red Cross ready!

By Sam Antenucci

Spring has sprung in Philly, and the threat of winter storms has passed. But weather is never passive, and new seasons always usher in new challenges. Spring and summer can and do bring severe weather events, such as high winds, hail, lightning, heat, drought, hurricanes, and more. In the East, the most common weather emergencies include severe thunderstorms (and power outages), flooding, and even tornadoes. So make hay while the sun shines! In other words, take this time to prepare. 

Get a Kit 

One of the best ways to prepare yourself and your loved ones for a weather crisis is to have an emergency kit stocked and ready in your home and vehicle. The supplies should be easy to carry in case you must evacuate. The Red Cross recommends including these items:

  • Three days’ worth of nonperishable food 
  • Water: one gallon per person per day 
  • Flashlights and extra batteries 
  • Battery-powered radio (preferably a NOAA weather radio) 
  • First-aid kit with medications, sanitation supplies, extra masks, and a multitool. For more ideas on what to include, see Make a First Aid Kit. Or you can purchase a complete kit from the Red Cross Store
  • Emergency contact information and copies of personal documents 
  • Extra cash and an emergency blanket

If you have kids and pets, include baby and pet supplies, along with games and activities for children. For more information, see Build Your Emergency Kit

Make a Plan 

The next thing to do is talk. Have a conversation with the people in your household. What kind of emergencies could happen? What would your family members do if they were in danger? Where should everyone meet up? What about a communication plan? Topics might include:

  • General ideas on ways to prepare for the types of events that can happen where you live and work 
  • Identifying a few places to meet up in case you’re separated 
  • Making a communication plan to reach one another 
  • If you or anyone has a disability or functional needs, creating an accommodation plan that includes care providers.

If you need help making that plan, the Red Cross has an Emergency Preparedness Checklist to help you get started.

Be Informed

Finally, you should have access to reliable information for area news and weather, such as NOAA Weather Radio stations or local news channels. 

The Red Cross has also created a mobile app that provides expert advice to help you better respond to natural disasters and hazards and monitor severe weather in your area. The free Emergency App is available for smartphones and tablets at redcross.org/apps, or by going to app stores and searching “American Red Cross.” 

Sometimes you can see a threat with your own eyes. Be on the lookout for telltale signs of severe weather, and know the precautions to take during a storm: 

  • Watch for darkening skies, increasing winds, and lightning flashes. 
  • If you hear thunder, it means you’re close enough to lightning to be in danger. Head indoors! 
  • During thunderstorms, avoid using electrical equipment and keep away from windows 
  • If you’re driving, stay in your vehicle and avoid touching metal. Your vehicle is a safe place to be during a storm, even if lightning strikes. 
  • Heavy downpours can limit visibility as you drive. If that happens to you, pull to the side of the road and keep your hazard lights on. 

For more information on staying safe this season, visit the following websites to better prepare for weather emergencies that could affect the Philly area:

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