JAMESTOWN – The National Weather Service and NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors recognize April 6 as Safe Place Selfie Day.
The day is intended to rise awareness about severe weather preparations, specifically how being in your safe place during times of active weather can help save your life. Everyone is encouraged to take a selfie inside of their safe place and post on social media, using the hashtag #SafePlaceSelfie. You can even tag and challenge others to review their safety plan and join in on the action.
Western New York can fit the definition of “everything but the kitchen sink” in terms of weather hazards, including flash floods, tornadoes, hail, and high winds. It is very important to have a plan in place for you and your family and coworkers to stay safe when severe weather occurs.
The first key is making sure you have multiple ways to get warnings. Every home, business, school, etc must have a NOAA Weather Radio. These are invaluable little receivers that will alert you when there is a severe watch or warning. NEVER EVER use an outdoor tornado siren as a way of getting warnings while you’re inside of a home or building.
By default, all smartphones come with Wireless Emergency Alerts enabled, which will automatically push Tornado Warnings, Flash Flood Warnings, and Snow Squall Warnings. Having an app dedicated to just pushing warnings is also a great option, and there are several good apps available.
Once you get that warning, that is when you execute your safety plan. During a Tornado Warning, the object is to get as low inside of a site-built structure as possible. A basement is ideal as it offers you the best protection from collapsing walls and ceilings. If no basement is available, go into a small interior room, such as a bathroom, closet, or stairwell on the lowest floor, near the center of the building, and away from windows.
If you live in a mobile home or trailer, you must have a location designated nearby you can go to during a warning. Mobile homes are not safe during a tornado and you cannot stay in them. If you find yourself driving and a warning is issued, find the nearest site-built building, such as a gas station, store, or restaurant, and wait the storm out.
Within that safe place, you must also have a kit of items such as hard-sole shoes, if you have to walk through a debris path, an airhorn in case you are injured and cannot vocalize your need for help to first responders, and helmets to protect the head and skull from flying debris.
Flash flooding is another dangerous concern, especially if you’re caught driving during a flooding event. You cannot tell how deep standing water is on roadways, especially under bridges and viaducts. Six inches of rapid-flowing water can knock a person off their feet, while a foot of water can move cars off the roadway. If you come across and area that is flooded, “turn around, don’t drown!”