Plan for a Thunderstorm

Develop a Family Disaster Plan. Please see the Family Disaster Plan section for general family planning information. Severe thunderstorm specific planning should include the following:
  • Learn about your area's severe thunderstorm risk. Severe thunderstorms can occur year-round and at any hour. Contact your local emergency management office, local National Weather Service office, or American Red Cross chapter for more information.
  • Discuss how you would know if a thunderstorm may produce a tornado. Tornadoes develop from severe thunderstorms along and ahead of cold fronts. (See the Tornado section for more information.)
  • Pick a "safe place" in your home where family members can gather during a thunderstorm. This should be a place where there are no windows, skylights, or glass doors, which could be broken by strong winds or hail, causing damage or injury. Severe thunderstorms do, at times, produce tornadoes.
  • In preparation for possible tornado warnings, consider making your severe thunderstorm "safe place" on the lowest floor of the building, near your tornado safe space.
  • Learn how to squat low to the ground. Make yourself the smallest target possible for lightning and minimize contact with the ground. Lightning current often enters a victim through the ground rather than by a direct overhead strike. Assume a crouched position on the ground with only the balls of the feet touching the ground, place your hands on your knees, and lower your head. Minimize your body's surface area, and minimize contact with the ground.
  • Discuss how you would be warned of an approaching thunderstorm. Different communities have different ways of providing warnings. Many communities have sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes. Use a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone-alert feature to keep you aware of watches and warnings while you are indoors. Learn about your community's warning system. Make sure all family members know the name of the county or parish where you live or are traveling, because severe thunderstorm watches and warnings are issued for counties or parishes.
  • Get training. Take an American Red Cross first aid and CPR course to learn how to treat burns and how to give rescue breathing and administer CPR. Everyone should know how to respond, because severe thunderstorms can strike almost anywhere at anytime.
  • Discuss severe thunderstorms with your family. Everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing disaster ahead of time helps reduce fear and lets everyone know how to respond during a severe thunderstorm.