Severe Thunderstorm Safety Tips

Plan ahead for weather emergencies. Take the time now to choose the best shelter within your home or office. Try to choose a small interior room or stairwell, ideally with walls reinforced with pipes (eg. bathroom) or concrete (eg. basement), on the lowest floor of the building. Make sure everyone concerned knows where to go and what precautions to take (see table below). Also, choose a meeting place where your family can gather after a severe storm, to ensure that you are all safe and accounted for.

safety_tips1.jpg (15527 bytes) safety_tips2.jpg (9253 bytes)

A tornado at Merimbula, NSW on 16 April 1995 damaged several buildings extensively.

Maintain an emergency pack with battery powered torch and radio, tools for emergency repair, food supplies, first aid, blankets and extra clothing. Keep your car fuel tank full, in case petrol stations close down after a storm. If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued consider precautions such as bringing livestock to shelter, putting away loose objects like garden furniture and parking vehicles under cover. Listen for weather updates and watch the skies. Keep calm, bring children and pets indoors and close all windows and doors. When the storm approaches be prepared go to your shelter.

FLOODING If house is in low-lying area be prepared to move to higher ground. Seek shelter. Do not try to walk through flash floods Avoid driving through flooded areas. If caught there, watch for road washouts and avoid dips and underpasses.
LIGHTNING Close windows and doors and keep away from windows, doors and fireplaces. Don't go outside unless it is absolutely necessary.

Before storm hits unplug appliances including radio, television and computers and do not touch electrical items or telephones during the storm.

Do not take a bath (both water and metal are electrical conductors).

Get inside vehicle or building if possible. Avoid water and objects that conduct electricity (eg. golf clubs, umbrellas, metal fences). Do not stay in open space or under tall objects (trees, poles).

If no shelter is available crouch down, feet close together with head tucked down. If in a group spread out, keeping people several metres apart.

Remember, lightning victims can be revived with CPR even though there is no pulse.

Stay in vehicle with windows closed. Avoid touching metal parts of vehicle. Do not drive, wait. But don't park under trees or other tall objects that may fall over in storm.

Be wary of downed power lines that may be touching your car. You should be safe in the car but may receive a shock if you step outside.

WIND/ TORNADO Stay inside with doors and windows shut. Stay away from windows, doors, and exterior walls. Go to a small, interior room or stairwell on the lowest floor of the building (bathrooms are often best choice). If possible crouch under heavy furniture. Protect your head with cushion or mattress. Seek shelter in a building (not a car or caravan) immediately. If no shelter is available, lie flat in low dry spot (ravine or ditch) or under a low bridge. Keep alert for flash floods. Protect your head. As a last resort, hang on tightly to the base of a shrub or small tree. Do not stay in a vehicle or caravan, and do not try to outrun tornado by driving, especially in populated areas. If possible run to nearby solid structure (shelter or building). If no solid structure is nearby lie flat in dry ditch or ravine outside. Keep alert for flash floods. Protect your head.
HAIL Stay away from windows and glass doors. Be alert for signs of high winds or tornado (especially if hail is large) and follow tornado precautions if necessary. Seek cover, face away from wind and protect your head. Be alert for signs of high winds or tornado (especially if hail is large) and follow tornado precautions if necessary. Keep head and face away from windows. Be alert for signs of high winds or tornadoes (especially if hail is large) and follow tornado precautions if necessary.

The information presented here is from "The Storm Spotters' Handbook" published by the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia in 1995.

Preserved in National Library of Australia PANDORA archive logo