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Preparing for Thunderstorms and Tornados

We should all be prepared for weather hazards that can affect our area. Preparing your family for emergencies can save time and anxiety and help keep your family safe.

Know the type of storms common to our area and the time of year they can strike. Pay close attention to watches and warnings issued for our area, and make sure your family knows what a severe weather watch or warning means.

Thunderstorm Watch: Conditions are right for a thunderstorm to form. These watches usually run for a long period of time.

Thunderstorm Warning: A thunderstorm has been spotted. These can quickly develop into severe storms and can produce high winds and damaging hail.

Tornado Watch: This is a high level of watch, and means that conditions are right for the formation of tornadoes. This is the time to remind your family members where the safest places are in your home, listen to the radio or watch the television for further developments. Watch for large hail, frequent lightning, and a dark, greenish-looking sky.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been spotted. This is a severe weather emergency. All parts of your family emergency plan should be put into effect if the tornado warning is for your area.

Preparing for Severe Weather

  • Pick two meeting places in case family members are separated from one another. Choose one near your house and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t get home.
  • Choose an out-of-town person to act as your "family check in" contact person for everyone to call in case you become separated.
  • Conduct safety drills and designate an area of your home as a safe room.
  • The largest percentage of tornadoes occur between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Children who are at home alone need to be taught where to go and what to do.

Here is a list of items to have on hand in the event of a severe weather emergency:

  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio
  • A bicycle helmet
  • A whistle to call for help if trapped
  • First Aid Kit
  • Emergency numbers for RCMP, Fire and utilities
  • Bottled water - 1 liter per person
  • Extra set of car keys
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Credit card and cash
  • Extra batteries
  • During a Severe Lightning Storm

What to do in a Thunderstorm

At Home

If you are in a building, stay inside. Stay away from windows, doors, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks or other electrical charge conductors. Unplug TVs, radios, toasters and other electrical appliances. Don’t use the phone or other electrical equipment.



If you are outside, seek shelter in a building or depressed area. Get off bicycles, motorcycles and tractors. If you’re caught in the open, crouch down with your feet close together and your head down. Don’t lie flat - by minimizing your contact with the ground you reduce the risk of being electrocuted by a ground charge. Keep away from telephone and power lines, fences, trees and hilltops.


In a Vehicle

Stop the vehicle and stay in it. Don’t stop near trees or power lines that could fall.


What to do if a Tornado Strikes

At Home

Go to a windowless interior room preferably in the basement. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or smaller interior room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet. Go to the center of the room, stay away from corners as they tend to attract debris. Stay away from windows or glass doors. Keep off the telephone. Get under a heavy piece of furniture such as a desk or workbench. Use a helmet to protect your head, otherwise try to protect your face and neck with your arms. Keep a battery powered radio close by to listen to weather updates. If you are in a mobile home, get outside and look for an area of low ground. Remember this one line for family safety - Lowest level, smallest room, center of the building.


If possible, get to a building or shelter. If shelter is not available lie down in a ditch or low lying area, but always stay alert for the potential of flooding. Use your arms to protect your face and neck. Stay low to survive. Most deaths and injuries are caused by flying debris.


In a Vehicle

Never try to outdrive a tornado. Tornadoes can change direction very quickly and move at speeds of up to 200 kph. Get out of the car and take shelter in a sturdy building or low lying area, but always be alert to the potential of flooding.


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