Hillsdale County Emergency Management
WHAT TERMS ARE USED TO ALERT YOU?
WATCH: A Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued by the National Weather Service whenever conditions exist for severe weather to develop. Watches are usually for large areas about two-thirds the size of lower Michigan and are usually two to six hours long. Watches give you time to plan and prepare. Make sure your family and friends are aware of the watch and are informed about what to do if a tornado is sighted. Keep an eye on the sky and listen for further statements and warnings.
WARNING: A Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued whenever a tornado or severe thunderstorm has actually been sighted or strongly indicated by radar. Warnings are for smaller areas, such as a county, and are usually 30 minutes to 1 hour long. You must act immediately when you first hear the warning. If the severe weather is reported near you, seek shelter immediately. If not, keep a constant lookout for severe weather and stay near shelter.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN YOU RECEIVE A WATCH OR WARNING?
1. Monitor weather information by tuning your radio to WCSR Hillsdale at 1340 AM or 92.1 FM or your television to Comcast Cablevision, or NOAA Weather Radio at 162.400 (VHF).
2. Listen for weather sirens and know what their signals mean.
3. Notify friends and relatives and locate children or handicapped individuals who may not be able to seek shelter quickly.
4. Make sure you shelter is ready (check flashlight batteries, etc.)
WHAT SHOULD YOU AVOID DOING?
1. Do Not Panic!
2. Do not call Emergency Services for information as your call may hold up information vital to all the county.
3. Use telephones only in case of Emergency. Lightning strikes are more common than tornadoes.
4. Do not attempt to leave a building during the approach od a tornado but rather seek the best cover in the building you are presently in. Mobile homes should be vacated for safer structures prior to the approach of the storm.
If you observe a funnel cloud or tornado call the Emergency Services Control Center at 437-7384 giving your name, the location of the cloud when you observed it and how much time has passed since your observation.
WHERE SHOULD YOU SEEK SHELTER?
As a general rule the further into the interior of a building you can get and the closer to below ground level you can get the better.
Go to a basement, if available. Seek shelter under heavy furniture or under the stairs. If you must seek shelter in a home with no basement, avoid outside walls, doors and all glass. Go to rooms with small ceiling areas (such as a closet ot bathroom) that will help hold debris off of you. Opening doors and window will not prevent damage and will increase the time necessary to take shelter. Plans are available for storm shelters that can be built in the home. Build a shelter and keep it equipped with non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery operated radio, and other items you may need.
AT WORK OR SCHOOL:
Follow advance plans to move to interior hallways or small rooms on the lowest floor. Avoid areas with glass and wide, free span roofs. Schools, factories and office buildings should designate someone to watch for severe weather and initiate an alarm.
IF DRIVING A VEHICLE OR CAUGHT IN OPEN COUNTRY:
Get into a sturdy building if possible, or lie flat in a ditch or depression and hold onto something on the ground if possible. Do not try to outrun the storm or ride it out in your vehicle.
WHAT IF YOU ARE A VICTIM?
Do your best to protect yourself, your family and your neighbors from further danger. Notify authorities. Photograph the damage to your property. Do not sign contracts for repair work or debris removal without consulting authorities and your insurance company.
WHAT IF A TORNADO TOUCHES DOWN NEARBY?
Do not go to the tornado scene. The area must be kept clear and secure for the victims and for emergency personnel.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER NATURAL DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH THUNDERSTORMS?
LIGHTNING is actually more common the tornadoes. When a thunderstorm threatens get inside a home or building as quickly as you can.
HAIL also can be dangerous if you are out in the open. The larger the hail size the bigger and more destructive the storm is going to be.
FLOODING is also a product thunderstorms. Torrential rainfall often accompanies severe storms and can quickly flood low lying areas, rivers and streams. Take extra precautions if you are in a flood prone area.