American Red Cross teams have been actively responding to multiple tornado and wildfire events in places like Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana over the past week. Forecasts say these same southern states may see more destructive storms and critical wildfire conditions are expected across the Plains throughout the week. The Red Cross offers tips people should follow to help keep their families safe from severe weather and wildfires.
A widespread storm system will spread from the Plains to the South and East this week, bringing damaging winds, hail, tornadoes and flash flooding threats to a large swath of the country. Here are the top Red Cross safety steps people should follow:
TORNADO SAFETY Know the difference between a tornado watch and warning. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible. A tornado warning means a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon.
- Know your community’s warning system, for example many areas use outdoor sirens.
- Watch for tornado danger signs: dark and greenish clouds, a wall cloud or cloud of debris.
- Bring your pets indoors and keep an eye on them.
- During a tornado warning, go to your safe place immediately — a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. In a high-rise, pick a hallway in the center of the building.
- If you live in a mobile home, find a safe place in a nearby sturdy building or vehicle. No mobile home is safe in a tornado.
THUNDERSTORM SAFETY Watch for storm signs, such as darkening skies, lightning flashes and increasing wind.
- If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger of lightning.
- Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning aren’t in the area where it’s raining.
- Take shelter in a substantial building or vehicle with the windows closed.
- If you are driving, try to safely exit the road and park.
- If you’re outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall or isolated trees and metal objects, such as fences and bleachers.
WILDFIRES The National Interagency Fire Center reports there have already been almost 14,000 wildfires this year across the country, consuming as many as 467,000 acres.
One of these blazes started over the weekend near Boulder, Colorado, forcing more than 19,000 people to evacuate. The Colorado Red Cross opened a shelter to help those affected and shared wildfire safety information throughout the area.
Elevated to critical fire weather conditions are expected today across the northern and central Plains states and later this week in parts of Florida. It is critical for people to make their preparedness plans now:
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and obey all evacuation orders from officials.
- Keep track of fires near you so you can be ready to evacuate quickly.
- Find an outdoor water source such as a pond, well, even a swimming pool, and have a hose that can reach any area of your property.
- Make sure driveway entrances and your house number are clearly marked so fire vehicles can get to your home.
- Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air. Close all doors and windows. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.
You should also download the free Red Cross Emergency app to have severe weather safety information right at your fingertips. The Emergency app provides real-time weather alerts and tips on how to stay safe during severe weather and countless other emergencies. Search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps.
You can find safety information about all different kinds of emergencies in the Red Cross preparedness section of this web site. Information is available on what to do before, during and after the storm or other emergency.
CORPORATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS HELP The generous donations from members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and the Disaster Responder Program enable the American Red Cross to prepare communities for disasters big and small, respond whenever and wherever disasters occur and help families during the recovery process.
ADGP $1 Million members are: Amazon; American Airlines; Anheuser-Busch Foundation; Anthem Foundation; Bank of America; Caterpillar Foundation; Costco Wholesale; Delta Air Lines; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation; FedEx; The Home Depot Foundation; Latter-day Saint Charities; Lilly Endowment Inc.; Lowe's Companies, Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; Nationwide Foundation; PetSmart Charities; The Starbucks Foundation; State Farm; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited; Truist Foundation; VSP Global; Walmart and the Walmart Foundation; and Wells Fargo.
ADGP $500,000 members are: Altria Group; Aon; Best Buy; Calmoseptine, Inc.; Capital One; Citi; The Clorox Company; Darden Foundation; Delta Dental Community Care Foundation; Edison International; Energy Transfer/Sunoco Foundation; Ford Motor Company Fund; Fox Corporation; General Motors; HCA Healthcare; International Paper; The J.M. Smucker Company; Johnson Controls Foundation; The Kroger Co. Foundation; Liberty Mutual Insurance; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Mastercard; Merck; Mondelēz International Foundation; New Balance Foundation; Organon; PayPal; PepsiCo Foundation; Salesforce; Southeastern Grocers Gives Foundation & Southeastern Grocers, home of Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie; Stanley Black & Decker; Target; The TJX Companies, Inc.; Toyota; United Airlines; UPS; USAA; Visa Foundation; The Walt Disney Company; and The Wawa Foundation.
Disaster Responder Program members are: 7-Eleven Cares Foundation; Adobe; American Express; Ameriprise Financial, Inc.; Assurant; AT&T; AvalonBay Communities, Inc.; Avangrid Foundation; Barclays; Big 5 Sporting Goods; Bread Financial; CarMax; Choice Hotels International; Cisco Foundation; CNA Insurance; The Coca-Cola Company; CSX; The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation; Discover; Dollar General; Duke Energy; Dutch Bros Foundation; Equitable; FirstEnergy Corporation; Gopuff; Grainger; Harbor Freight Tools Foundation, LLC; Hewlett Packard Enterprise Foundation; HP Foundation; Humble Bundle; Kaiser Permanente; Kimberly-Clark Corporation; The Kraft Heinz Company Foundation; The Labcorp Charitable Foundation; Lenovo Foundation; LHC Group; Major League Baseball; Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc.; Martin Marietta; Mattress Firm; McKesson; MetLife Foundation; Neiman Marcus Group; NextEra Energy, Inc.; Northrop Grumman; Northwestern Mutual and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation; Old Dominion Freight Line; Pacific Life Foundation; Procter & Gamble; Prudential Financial; Raytheon Technologies; Reckitt; Rodan + Fields Prescription for Change Project; Ross Stores Foundation; Ryder System, Inc.; San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; Security Finance’s Lending Hand Foundation; ServiceNow, Inc.; Southwest Airlines; Tata Consultancy Services; U-Haul International; and U.S. Bank Foundation.