Red Cross offers safety tips as strong storms move east - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Red Cross offers safety tips as strong storms move east

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AIKEN, SC (WFXG) -

The strong storm system that has caused devastating tornadoes in the South and Midwest is moving eastward, threatening other parts of the country for the next several days.

The American Red Cross Aiken Area Chapter has placed its disaster volunteers on alert to respond to tornados, flooding and other severe weather. 

The American Red Cross has safety steps people can follow and urges everyone in the path of this storm to get prepared now.

The storm system is expected to bring heavy rains, damaging winds, large hail and the possibility of more tornadoes to the Gulf Coast, Southeast, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys and Mid-Atlantic regions through Wednesday. Some regions could see as much as 5 inches of rain which could cause flooding in some areas.

"This storm is dangerous. People should pay attention to their local media and stay informed," said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer.. "We have a list of steps people can take to help them stay safe."

"Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping," said Derek Dugan, Executive Director of the Aiken Area Chapter of the Red Cross. "The audible alerts in this app can save lives - even if users can't monitor the weather because they are away from radio & TV or in the case of a power outage." 

TORNADO SAFETY

People should know how their community will warn them about the storm. Other steps include the following:

• Download the Red Cross tornado app onto mobile devices. People can use the app's "I'm Safe" button to let loved ones know they are okay and find the location of Red Cross shelters. The app also includes a siren and warning alert that signals when a tornado warning has been issued, as well as an all-clear alert that lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or been canceled.

• Pick a place where family members can gather - the basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.

• Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.

• Watch for tornado danger signs – dark, greenish clouds, a cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or roaring noise.

• Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or severe winds. If there is access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, abandon the mobile home immediately and go to that facility. Do not wait until the tornado is in view.

• If someone is caught outdoors, they should seek shelter in a basement or sturdy building. If they can't do that, they should get into a vehicle, buckle their seat belt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs, they should pull over and park, stay in the vehicle with their head down below the windows, covering their head.

• Once you are certain your household is safe, check in on neighbors, friends and family to ensure they are safe and have everything they need. It is particularly helpful to check in on those who are elderly and/or have functional or access needs to ensure they are safe and well.

• Stay informed about the moving weather system and share information and preparedness tips with those that live nearby.

FLOODING SAFETY

If flooding is possible, people should be prepared to evacuate if ordered. Other flooding safety steps are:

• Pack a disaster kit including a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food for each person in the household and items such as a flashlight and batteries, a first aid kit, medications, sanitation and personal hygiene items, cell phones and chargers, extra cash and copies of important papers.

• Download the Red Cross flood app for mobile devices. One-touch "I'm safe" messaging allows users to let family and friends know that they are out of harm's way. The app gives simple instructions on what to do even if cell towers and television reception are down and lets people locate open shelters. Users can also receive NOAA flood and flash flood watches and warnings.

• If a flood or flash flood warning is issued for someone's area, they should head for higher ground and stay there.

• Stay away from floodwaters whether walking or driving

• Keep children out of the water.

• Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

• Share preparedness information with neighbors, friends and family to help them stay safe.

• Once you are certain your household is safe, check in on neighbors, friends and family to ensure they are safe and have everything they need. It is particularly helpful to check in on those who are elderly and/or have functional or access needs to ensure they are safe and well.

More safety information can be found at www.redcross.org.

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