Spring is finally in the air … trees are (or will soon be) budding out, daffodils are dotting flowerbeds, birds are singing … and the possibility of severe weather looms. Here in Georgia, we are expecting storms (some severe) this evening – marking the beginning of a spring weather pattern that will at times probably include lightning, downed trees, hail, and perhaps even a tornado. Spring is notorious for its storms, so if you haven't taken the time to come up with a severe weather emergency plan, now is a great time to think about spring safety.
During a tornado warning, the lowest possible level is the safest place to be, so if you live on an upper floor of your apartment building, you may want to consider a lower-level interior space. If one isn't available or you live in a high-rise and you don't think getting downstairs in time is realistic, an interior hallway or under a stairwell is a good option. (Stay away from elevators.) You want to be in a room away from all windows, so a closet or the bathroom will work if you simply can't make it to a lower level. Protecting yourself from flying debris during a tornado is imperative, so come up with a plan that includes some sort of cover (such as a mattress).
Lightning is common during spring and summer storms. Of course, if you are outside and a storm is looming, you should get inside right away. Get away from water, don't stand under trees, stay off mountains, and get off the golf course! When I lived in Florida, I was amazed at the frequency of lighting strike stories that involved people on golf courses and near water. As for water, even if your apartment community has an indoor pool, it is still unsafe during an electrical storm.
During a particularly bad storm last year, a family in our community had lightning strike their home and set it on fire. Before storm season officially begins, check your smoke detectors. Make sure they are in proper working order, and if necessary – change the batteries. Also, if you haven't done so, plan your escape route and practice it.
Right now, before the first severe storm strikes, check the batteries in your flashlights and put them in easily accessible locations. If you typically light candles when the power goes out, make sure they are in open locations and free of clutter. Keep a lighter in a safe spot that you can access easily in the dark.
Get a small plastic bin with a lid and create an emergency kit. This is especially important if you live in an area prone to hurricanes. In your kit, you want to place essentials such as first aid supplies, a can opener, a few cans of food, batteries, a flashlight, important documents in a sealed plastic bag, and water. Also, don't forget about your pet – keep a spare emergency leash and some pet food in the kit.
Spring is a great time of year! Enjoy the sunshine, the cool evenings, and the colorful blooms knowing that if the worst happens – you'll be prepared.