Don’t let March winds and April showers leave you unprepared

March 1-7 is Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week, and the Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management urges everyone to be prepared for the upcoming severe weather season: flooding, tornadoes, and super cell thunderstorms with dangerously large hail and very high winds. Here are important severe-weather safety facts and tips.


Tornadoes cause an average of 62 deaths and 1,500 injuries per year in the United States.

Know your community’s warning system, and pick a "safe room" if a tornado is headed: basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.

Prepare for strong winds: remove diseased and damaged limbs from trees; secure lawn furniture, trash cans and hanging installations that can be picked up by the wind and become projectiles.

Know the tornado danger signs – dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or a roaring noise.


Thunderstorms can occur frequently in the spring and summer and can include high winds of over 125 miles per hour.

Lightning results in an average of 55-60 deaths and 300 injuries per year in the United States. Remember, if thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.

Watch for storm signs: darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds. Always take shelter in a building or a vehicle with the windows and doors closed securely.


Flash flooding results in an average of 70+ deaths per year in the United States. Flash floods can occur suddenly. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

Remember the mantra: Turn Around – Don’t Drown! Do not attempt to move through flood waters. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.

The following are necessary safety precautions:

Disaster Supplies Kit

Assemble a disaster supplies kit with items you may need in case of an evacuation or if you need to shelter-in-place. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers. The kits should include food, water, clothes, important financial documents, and medical supplies. A complete list of items can be found at

Family Emergency Plan

Learn your community’s warning signals and evacuation plans.

Meet with your family to create a plan. Select emergency meet-up locations: a spot outside your home and a location away from your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.

Practice your plan. Inspect your home for potential hazards. Learn CPR and first aid; how to use a fire extinguisher; and how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity in your home.

Spring weather can be unpredictable. Prepare for storms, floods, and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.

For more information visit the Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management’s website at or call 216-443-5700.

Larissa Paschyn

Larissa Paschyn is the Training & Outreach Specialist at the Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management.

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Volume 7, Issue 4, Posted 9:13 AM, 02.17.2015