April showers bring May flowers, but they can also bring some scary weather situations. In honor of Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week, which runs April 17-21, here are five valuable tips to help you prepare for tornadoes, thunderstorms and other severe conditions.
1. Watches, Warnings and Advisories
The National Weather Service uses these terms to categorize weather alerts based on severity and likelihood.
A watch means chances are good for severe weather to develop under current conditions, but it hasn't happened yet. You should stay tuned to weather reports and modify your plans accordingly.
A warning means the event is either imminent or already happening somewhere in the designated area. If you're outdoors, seek shelter immediately.
An advisory is issued for less serious events, but you should still take precautions to prevent a situation from becoming dangerous.
2. Use a Weather Radio
A weather radio tunes directly into weather stations so you can get news and updates immediately. Choose a style with multiple power options such as battery and hand-crank so it will continue to work if the electricity goes out. Also consider downloading a severe weather alert app on your smartphone.
3. Beware of Rising Water
Did you know that in Minnesota, more people have died during floods than any other severe weather event? Here are some safety measures you need to know:
Flooding most often occurs in spring and summer.
Whether on foot or in a car, never pass through standing or running water. Even if you're in a familiar area, there's no way of knowing what dangers are hiding under the surface.
If your vehicle stalls, exit immediately and seek higher ground to prevent becoming trapped inside.
4. Thunder and Lightning
Thunderstorms are common events in Minnesota and the Midwest, but they present a greater danger than tornadoes.
The safest place is indoors, away from electrical equipment, windows, doors and plumbing. If you can't get to shelter, head for low land away from trees and water.
It's a myth that rubber-soled shoes or car tires will ground you, but being inside a car does provide some protection as long as you're not touching any metal.
Stay inside for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
5. Tornado Shelter
While indoors is the safest place to be during all weather emergencies, it goes a little further with tornadoes, where the goal is to make yourself as small of a "target" as possible.
Head for the basement or lowest floor of the building. Stay away from windows.
Get under a heavy table, inside a closet or bathtub, or any other sturdy structure that can serve as a shield. If that's not possible, cover yourself with a sleeping bag or mattress to keep from getting injured by debris.
Power frequently goes out during a tornado, so keep a flashlight handy and check the batteries periodically.
Your safety is important to us. Please stop by and talk to a member of our on-site management team to discuss any weather questions or concerns you may have.