Severe Weather Safety Tips

For information on why the Outdoor Warning System is activated click here.

When the Sirens Sounded:
  • Go inside.
  • Go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor of the building.
  • Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Seek shelter in a restroom or in a basement. Get in a bathtub or under something sturdy such as a table.
  • If possible, cover yourself with a blanket or sleeping bag.
  • Avoid “long span” buildings such as auditoriums, shopping malls, and theaters. If you are caught in a long span building, avoid large open areas such as atriums.
  • Abandon cars or mobile homes and seek shelter in a more substantial structure, or lie flat with your arms over your head in a ditch or low-lying area. Do not use your car to try to out run a tornado.
  • Listen to weather alert radio or local radio/television stations for further information.
  • Stay off of the telephone - Do not call 911, the Fire Department or the Police Department unless you have an actual fire/medical emergency, or need police assistance.
  • Do not attempt to pick up children at schools or other locations where they will be safe.
  • Stay inside until you are sure it is safe to leave.
  • There is no “all clear” signal.

Severe Weather Safety:

Severe weather is one of the most common hazards in the North Texas area.

It is important to be aware of weather conditions and to stay alert during severe weather. Weather alert radios can provide immediate notification of severe weather. You should know the meanings of terms that are used during severe weather.

A "Watch" is issued when weather conditions are favorable for the formation of severe weather. During a watch, keep alert to changing conditions and prepare to take protective actions.

A "Warning" is issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or is indicated by radar. During a warning, take protective actions immediately.

Flash Floods:

Flash flooding is the largest cause of death due to thunderstorms.

Flash Flood Precautions:
  • Do not drive through water that is moving across a road. It only takes a few inches of running water to wash a vehicle off the roadway.
  • Look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges, and other low-lying areas. This is especially important at night.


Lightning is the second largest cause of death due to thunderstorms.

Lightning Precautions:

  • If you hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Seek shelter immediately in a building or a car.
  • If no shelter is available, go to a low, open area away from trees, poles and metal objects. Squat low to the ground and try to make yourself the smallest target possible.
  • If caught in a wooded area, take shelter under the shorter trees.
  • Avoid using the telephone or electrical devices.
  • Avoid taking a shower or bath.
  • If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.

Straight-line Winds:

Straight-line winds can cause injuries and significant damage.

Severe Wind Precautions:
  • Avoid driving in severe wind since high winds can make controlling your vehicle difficult and reduce visibility.
  • Secure loose items such as lawn furniture that might be blown about by high winds.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.

Planning for a Tornado:
  • Conduct tornado drills each tornado season.
  • Designate an area in the home as a shelter, and practice going to the designated shelter area as a family.
  • Discuss with family members the difference between a “tornado watch” and a “tornado warning.”
  • Contact your Emergency Management Office at (972) 721-2100 for more information on tornadoes.
Have disaster supplies on hand:
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Portable radio and extra batteries
  • First Aid Kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes

Develop an emergency communications plan. Have a plan for finding family members that get separated during a tornado, (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at schools or day cares). Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact”, (After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance.) Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

Tornado Danger Signs Learn these danger signs:
  • Large Hail: Tornadoes are spawned from powerful thunderstorms and the most powerful thunderstorms produce large hail. Tornadoes frequently emerge from near the hail-producing portion of the storm.
  • Calm before the storm: Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
  • Cloud of debris: An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.
  • Funnel cloud: A visible rotating extension of the cloud base is a sign that a tornado may develop. A tornado is evident when one or more of the clouds turns greenish (a phenomenon caused by hail) and a dark funnel descends.

Roaring Noise:

The high winds of a tornado can cause a roar that is often compared with the sound of a freight train. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.