Severe thunderstorms, strong winds and tornadoes struck parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Iowa Sunday and Monday resulting in storm damage to hundreds of homes and sending residents to the hospital for treatment of their injuries. The same severe weather capable of producing severe thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes is creeping eastward today and could affect parts of North Carolina Tuesday into Wednesday. We all remember the tornadoes that ripped through much of central North Carolina almost three years ago. Keeping this destruction in mind, it is never too early to remind your family of the basic tornado safety procedures.

If you are at home:
• Go to the lowest and smallest room
• Get under something sturdy or in a hallway.
• Get away from windows.
• Cover yourself from blankets, pillows and coats to protect you from debris. If you have a bike helmet available, put it on.
• Crouch as low as possible to the floor.
• A bathtub may also offer a shell of partial protection.

If you are at work or in an office building:
• Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building away from glass. Interior stairwells are almost always good places to take shelter.
• Crouch down and cover your head.
• Stay out of elevators. You could become trapped if power is lost.

If you are outdoors:
• Seek shelter in a sturdy building.
• Otherwise, lay flat and face-down on low ground.
• Protect the back of your head with your arms.
• Get as far away from trees and cars as you can – they can be blown onto you in a tornado.

If you are in a vehicle:
• Park your car as quickly and safely as possible
• You should seek shelter in a sturdy building if possible.
• If no buildings or nearby, run to low ground away from any cars and lay flat and lay face-down.
• Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which offer little to no protection against flying debris.

It is also a good time to remove any dead tree limbs and secure lawn furniture that could damage your home if blown by strong winds. Straight-line winds can be just as dangerous as tornadoes with down-burst winds from severe thunderstorms reaching speeds equivalent to EF1, EF2 or EF3 tornadoes.

Also, take time today to make sure your smart phone has an activated severe storm warning application to alert you of severe weather in you vicinity. One popular app from The Weather Channel has apps available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phones and even offers text alerts.

The weather is always changing and hopefully we won’t see any bad weather, but PHC Restoration wants to encourage everyone to keep an eye out for any storm warnings or watches for your area. Stay safe!