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Hazard-specific information for weather disasters

Weather is monitored closely by various government agencies. Severe weather should be taken seriously – it can be dangerous and harm both you and your property.

Severe weather

In a thunderstorm:

  • Avoid handling metal, electrical equipment, telephones, bathtubs, water faucets, and sinks because lightning can follow the wires and pipes. Be especially careful with televisions.
  • If there is a severe thunderstorm, take cover immediately in a stable facility, but avoid trees.

In a flash flood:

  • Seek high ground. Never attempt to drive your vehicle through standing water.

In a tornado:

  • Go to your basement or the lowest point of your residence, or an interior room or hallway without windows. If you cannot find shelter, take cover in a ditch or other recessed area. If you are asked to evacuate, do so immediately.

Some measures to help you weather major storms:

  • Shutter or board windows.
  • Secure outdoor objects such as lawn furniture or garbage cans that could blow away and cause damage or injury.
  • Never touch or go near downed power lines, even if you think they are safe.
  • In extreme conditions, consider shutting off power and appliance gas switches to prevent damage to your appliances.

During severe weather, dress appropriately for weather conditions. Stay updated by watching TV or listening to the radio. The National Weather Service broadcasts forecasts, warnings, and other information 24 hours a day. Special weather radios are available at local retail stores.

  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning
    A severe thunderstorm is occurring.
  • Tornado Watch
    A tornado could form in the next few hours.
  • Tornado Warning
    A tornado has been reported and/or the National Weather Service radar has detected a tornado or tornadic signature.
  • Flash Flood Watch
    Localized flooding due to heavy rainfall is possible.
  • Flash Flood Warning
    Localized flooding due to heavy rainfall is imminent.
  • Freezing Rain Advisory
    Minor accumulation of ice due to freezing rain is expected.
  • Winter Weather Advisory
    A minor accumulation of snow, sleet and freezing rain is expected.
  • Snow Advisory
    Accumulations of one to four inches expected within a 12 hour period.
  • Blizzard Warning
    Strong winds, blinding driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected in the next several hours.
  • Winter Storm Watch
    Significant accumulation of snow and/or ice is possible within 36 hours.
  • Winter Storm Warning
    A storm with six or more inches of snow/sleet/ freezing rain within a 24- hour period is expected.

See the National Weather Service website at www.weather.gov for more information.

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Winter weather

Dangerous winter weather includes winter storms and blizzards. These can involve a combination of heavy snow, ice accumulation, and dangerous wind chills.

Dress warmly and stay dry:

  • Wear hats, scarves, layers, and water-repellent coats.
  • Wear mittens instead of gloves; they are warmer.
  • Make sure small children – especially babies – stay warm, as infants can easily become hypothermic under conditions that would not necessarily be as dangerous for adults.

Cover your mouth:

  • Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors.

Avoid overexertion:

  • Take your time while shoveling snow or pushing a car. Stretch before you go out and drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.

Car safety:

  • Be sure to clear snow from your tail pipe before you start your car to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Many fires and emergencies are caused every year from unsafe heating. If you live in a multi unit residential building and do not have heat, contact your building owner. Follow these tips for safe heating:

  • Fuel-burning items (such as furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers) should be working, ventilated, and inspected by a professional regularly in order to prevent unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Electric heaters should be used with extreme caution to prevent shock, fire, and burns.
  • Materials near heaters should be kept at least three feet from the heat source to prevent fire.
  • Gas ovens and burners should never be used to heat your home.

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Summer weather

Follow these steps to stay cool:

  • Stay out of the sun. When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15).
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible to prevent sunburn.
  • Give your body a chance to adjust to extreme temperature changes.
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.
  • Use shades or awnings.
  • Consider going to public pools and air-conditioned stores and malls.
  • Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car during periods of intense summer heat.
  • Find a cooling center.

Heat terms:

  • Heat Wave
    Prolonged period of excessive heat often combined with excessive humidity.
  • Heat Index
    Number of degrees Fahrenheit that indicates how it feels when relative humidity is factored into air temperature.
  • Heat Advisory
    When the heat index exceeds 100°F for less than three hours a day for two consecutive days.
  • Excessive Heat Warning
    When the heat index is expected to exceed 115°F or when it exceeds 100°F for three or more hours for two consecutive days.
  • Excessive Heat Watch
    A long-term alert for excessive heat.
  • Ozone Advisory
    Issued when ozone levels are expected to exceed 0.08 parts per million of ozone over an eight-hour period. People should limit their outdoor activity and those with respiratory problems (such as asthma) should be especially careful and avoid strenuous activity.

Heat cramps:

Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms resulting from heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe heat-related illness, they are an early signal that the body is having trouble coping with heat and should be treated immediately with rest and fluids. Stretching or direct pressure can also reduce cramps. Unless very severe, heat cramps do not require emergency medical attention.

Heat exhaustion:

Heat exhaustion occurs when body fluids are lost through heavy sweating due to vigorous exercise or working in a hot, humid place. Symptoms include: sweating; pale, clammy skin; fatigue; headache; dizziness; shallow breaths; and a weak or rapid pulse. Victims of heat exhaustion are tired but not confused. The condition should be treated with rest in a cool area, drinking water or electrolyte solutions, elevating the feet 12 inches, and further medical treatment in severe cases. If not treated, the victim's condition may escalate to heat stroke. If the victim does not respond to basic treatment, seek medical attention.

Heat stroke(also called "sunstroke"):

The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweat to cool the body, stops working. The skin is flushed, hot and dry, and body temperature may be elevated. The victim may also be confused, develop seizures, breathe shallowly and have a weak or rapid pulse. This is the most serious heat-related illness and people exhibiting these symptoms should seek emergency medical attention.

Extreme heat:

During the summer months, people are especially vulnerable to the hazards created by hot weather. The asphalt, concrete and metal that make up the City absorb heat and make it difficult for the City to cool down. This is known as the "heat island" effect. Heat waves are particularly dangerous for children and people with special needs. Please check on your neighbors and offer them assistance.

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Last updated: 6/10/2008 10:46:49 PM