Staffers offer tips for staying safe in hazardous weather

The Courier stresses importance of having emergency plan for safety in event of extreme heat, rain, fire, hail, tornadoes

The Courier Staff, Staff Writer

Periods of extreme heat (temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit), can cause conditions such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke in those who are exposed. It is important to ensure that your home’s air conditioning units, are in perfect working condition. Temporary window reflectors can also be installed on windows to help reflect heat back outside. People living in urban areas are especially vulnerable to periods of extreme heat, and therefore may be at a greater risk of heat related maladies. As such, physical labor and outdoor activities are discouraged. Those exposed should avoid beverages containing caffeine and alcohol, and should instead drink more water than usual, even if they do not particularly feel thirsty.

Biological attacks may not be immediately obvious when they strike. The best defense against disasters of this nature is to plan ahead. Preparing an emergency supply kit with non-perishable food, water and other emergency essentials is one way to stay safe in the event of an unexpected biological attack. In the event that such an attack takes place, it is important to remain calm and to protect one’s self from possible airborne pathogens. Wearing a face mask could not only protect against biological attacks, but also may reduce the risk of spreading possible contagions to others. It is also imperative to follow the instructions of public health officals during the event of such an attack.

Thunderstorms are not uncommon, but taking preventative steps to ensure safety is still a neccessity. It is vital to avoid contact with electrical cords as these can spark due to the possibilitty of lightning striking any transformers or cables nearby. The resulting surges can cause serious damage. A common conductor of electricity is water, which can be tricky to avoid. During a lightning storm, however, it is best to postpone any laundry cleaning, shower taking or dish washing. Bathroom fixtures can also conduct electricty. Due to high winds, it is best to steer clear of any windows, doors or porches. Even the smallest objects can become weapons in minutes. If driving, navigate to the side of the road and turn hazzard lights on.

More than 2,500 people die in home fires annually in the US, according to Every second counts in such incidents, so it is recommended that households have a set plan in the event of such a disaster. Fire escape plans should be practiced at least twice a year, and include back up plans to account for unforeseen complications during a blaze. Smoke alarms should also be installed on every floor of homes, and inspected at least once a year to ensure that they are in working order. If a fire does occur in one’s house it is best to stay low to the ground and crawl to the nearest exit. Heavy smoke and gasses produced by the fire will collect at the ceiling first

Hail is a pricey weather hazard with hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to structures, vehicles and crops each year. Having a plan and remaining observant of changing weather can save you time and money, not to mention keep you safe. Also included in the destruction caused by hail is the disruption of electrical services. It is wise to have prepared a disaster survival kit and evacuation plan. Hail occurs most frequently in strong thunderstorms and tornadoes and is typically accompanied by a siren or other community alert system. Though hail size can be small, it is important to put vehicles in a garage and bring pets indoors. Remain in the center of a building, away from windows, as hail can penetrate glass and cause serious damage.

Tornadoes are deadly and can level entire neighborhoods in seconds. Reaching winds of up to 300 miles per hour, tornadoes can strike almost instantly with no advanced warning. It is highly recommended to have an emergency plan already in place in the event one touches down near you. Look for dark, greenish skies, hail and low-lying clouds, as these are warnings of a tornado’s presence. Also, listen for roaring, similar to a freight train. Once in the safety of a sturdy building, it is important to listen to updated weather reports on a radio or TV. Always take instructions from local emergency officials. A few minutes of warning to hide can save lives.