The likelihood of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes increases as temperatures continue to rise. With that in mind, it’s time to think about keeping your family safe.
First, you should have a safe place in your home to take your family during a storm. It could be the basement, a central closet or a bathroom with no windows. Once you’ve determined the best location for your family, you should have supplies handy to ride out the storm. Below you’ll find storm facts that parents should know, information to share with your kids, coloring pages, and a kid-friendly checklist for storms.
- A thunderstorm is considered “severe” when it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter, has winds gusting about 58 mph or produces a tornado in addition to rain and thunder.
- Tornadoes can happen at any time of year and at any time of day. They happen most often in the spring and summer.
- The United States averages 1,200 tornadoes each year, causing approximately 1,500 injuries.
- Six inches of fast-moving water is enough to knock you off your feet and two feet of rushing water can carry away most motor vehicles.
- Tornado wind speeds can range from 40 mph to over 300 mph. The tornado itself can travel anywhere from 30-70 mph.
- Watch for large, dark cumulonimbus clouds. These are tall clouds that produce lightning and tornadoes.
- Stay away from windows. It’s a common belief that opening windows before a tornado equalizes pressure and helps cause less damage. Instead, it puts you near the window, which could break and cause injuries.
What Your Kids Should Know
Help your kids understand the warning signs of a storm. Explain to them that a “tornado watch” means conditions are right for a tornado, while a “tornado warning” means one has actually been spotted.
If they’re watching TV and their favorite show is interrupted by a weather report, have them notify you of the alert. TV stations often cover a large viewing area, so you may be able to reassure them that the storm isn’t near your house, or you can quickly take action if it is.
Your city may have an outdoor warning system in place for dangerous weather. The system is usually a loud siren that is tested on a set day every month. Have your kids listen to the test so they know what the alarm sounds like for a real emergency.
Have a Storm Checklist
Print this list and put it in a prominent place, like your refrigerator. Go over the list with your kids and talk about why each item on this list is important. Kids may be tempted to play with the flashlight or want to play games on the phone, but remind them they’re too important to play with during a storm--you might need that battery power later.
The checklist will also help you keep your cool. Kids may be scared during a storm, but you can rest easier knowing they have the storm checklist.
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