SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS: THUNDERSTORMS AND LIGHTNING

PEARL – The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service are highlighting the dangers of thunderstorms and lightning as Severe Weather Preparedness Week begins. Thunderstorms are a regular threat to our state, but there are actions you can take before and during a storm to ensure the safety of you and your family.

 
To prepare for a thunderstorm:
·         Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
 
If a thunderstorm is likely in your area:
·         Postpone outdoor activities.
·         Get inside a home, building or hard top automobile. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
·         Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
·         Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
·         Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
·         Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
·         Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cell phones are safe to use.
·         Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
·         Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
 
Avoid the following during thunderstorms:
·         Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
·         Hill tops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
·         Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
·         Anything metal – tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.
 
What to do if you are in the following places during a thunderstorm:
·         In a forest: Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
·         In an open area: Go to a low place such as a ravine or a valley. Be alert for flash floods.
·         On open water: Get to land and find shelter immediately.
·         Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end: This indicates lightning is about to strike. Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place you hands over your ears and your head between
·         your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact to the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.
 
One of the most important things anyone can do is share this information with their family and friends.  By sharing this information, more Mississippians will be prepared the next time severe weather hits our state.
 
Governor Phil Bryant declared Feb. 4-8 Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Mississippi.
 
For more preparedness information please visit www.msema.org, contact your local emergency management office or local weather service office.
 
Follow updates on our website, www.msema.org, and on Facebook and Twitter using MSEMA.
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