Red Cross Ready to Help; Urges People in Path of Storms to Prepare

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2016 — Millions of people from Nebraska to Texas face the threat of severe weather this week and the American Red Cross urges them to get prepared now.

Weather experts report there is a risk for a significant outbreak of severe thunderstorms capable of producing destructive straight line winds, large damaging hail and tornadoes. Tornadoes could occur tonight into early Wednesday. The heavy rains from these storms could cause flooding.

“Red Cross chapters from Texas to Nebraska are mobilizing relief supplies, getting shelter locations ready, lining up disaster volunteers and activating response teams to provide help as quickly as possible in case they are needed,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “Just as the Red Cross is getting ready, people in the path of these potentially dangerous storms need to make their preparations now.”

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information, severe weather alerts and shelter locations available on their mobile device. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

Everyone in the region should listen to local news for updates and watch for signs of a storm such as darkening skies, increasing wind or lightning flashes, and they should postpone outdoor activities. If someone can hear thunder, they are close enough to be in danger from lightning – if thunder roars, go indoors.

Households should build disaster kits with enough supplies for at least three days, including water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. They should also have an emergency plan in which each person knows how to reach other members of the household. The plan should also include an out-of-area emergency contact person, and where everyone should meet if they can’t go home.

TORNADO SAFETY People living in areas where tornadoes may occur should know their community’s warning system and listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about any tornado watches and warnings issued. Other safety steps include:

BEFORE THE STORM:

  • Pick a safe room – a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Move items inside that could be picked up by the wind such as lawn furniture, trash cans and hanging plants.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs such as dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud or cloud of debris, large hail, a roaring noise or funnel cloud.

DURING A TORNADO:

  • Go to an underground shelter, basement or safe room. If these are not available, go to a small windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. Do not seek shelter in the hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. If you can get to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, abandon the mobile home immediately and go to the nearest sturdy building, using your seat belt if driving. Do not wait until you see the tornado.
  • If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you can’t get to one quickly, get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the nearest sturdy building.
  • If driving, either stay in the car with the seat belt on and put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. Or, if you can get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, get out of the car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross needs the public’s help now. There have been three times more large-scale disasters during the first months of 2016 than the previous three years combined along with helping at the scene of hundreds of home fires and other smaller disasters every day.

People can give to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.