Everyone has heard “dos and don’ts” when it comes to severe weather. For Severe Weather Preparedness and Flood Awareness Week 2017, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security is debunking a seven myths that may help protect Hoosiers this spring.
Myth #1: Any Building is Safe During a Tornado
Manufactured buildings often can’t stand up to the wind speed and pressure, and are not safe shelters during a tornado. Hoosiers living in mobile homes or similar structures should talk to friends, family or neighbors to find a safe shelter in advance. Permanent structures are best for shelter during a tornado, especially if they have a basement. Interior, lower level rooms away from doors and windows can be an adequate backup plan.
Myth #2: Seek Shelter in an Underpass During Tornadoes
When traveling during a tornado, an underpass is one of the worst places to take shelter. Wind speeds can increase while flowing under the structure, and serious injuries can occur. Seek shelter in a permanent structure (even better if it has a basement). If there is no safe building nearby, look for a depression or ditch that is safely and significantly lower than the level of the roadway. Lie down in that area. Hands and arms should be used to protect the head and neck. If there is no ditch or low areas nearby, park and stay in the car and continue to wear a seatbelt. Lean over to stay below window level. If possible, use hands, blankets or coats to protect the head and neck.
Myth #3: Open Windows Prior to Tornado Strike to Equalize Pressure Inside the House
Opening windows does not help equalize pressure, and spending the time cracking those windows can use up valuable seconds needed to take shelter. When an alert sounds on television, phones or all hazard radios, seek shelter right away.
Myth #4: If outside in a thunderstorm, seek shelter under a tree to stay dry
Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors. Seek shelter right away, preferably in a building or hard top automobile. Although injuries can occur to someone in a car if lightning strikes the vehicle, being inside a hard-topped vehicle is better than outside. If no shelter is available, crouch in a low area such as a ravine or valley and stay alert for flash floods.
Myth #5: It’s OK to Drive Across a Flooded Roadway if it Doesn’t Look Too Deep
Never attempt to cross a flooded road, even if it seems shallow. Water can conceal dips, or worse, flood waters can damage roadways, washing away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground.
Myth #6: Playing in Flood Water is a Safe Tradition
While playing in water can be a lot of fun, flood water can contain unknown contaminants such as oil and other waste that can impact health. Unseen dangers, like large rocks, tree limbs or strong water currents, also pose a threat when playing in flood water. Additionally, do not try to cross moving water on foot. As little as a few inches of flowing water can knock adults off their feet.
Myth #7: Flooding Only Impacts Properties Near Rivers
Floods can impact properties no matter where they are located, but especially in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appears harmless in dry weather can flood. Keep storm drains clear to help combat localized flooding and monitor conditions closely during rain events.
Seven were mentioned, but really, here’s one more . . .
Myth #8: There’s No Way to Prepare for Disasters
Taking steps now can make a big difference during an emergency. Making a plan, building a preparedness kit and learning about common local risks can help increase safety. Being a little prepared for severe weather is better than doing nothing, and may help keep family members safe.
Visit the Indiana Department of Homeland Security site GetPrepared.IN.gov for more information and resources for severe weather and floods.