Preparation for Severe Weather

It is important to know that thunderstorms need three things:

  • Moisture - to form clouds and rain.
  • Unstable Air - relatively warm air that can rise rapidly.
  • Lift - fronts, sea breezes and mountains are capable of lifting air to help form thunderstorms.

When a storm is approaching, look for darkening skies, flashes of light or increasing wind.  Listen for the sound of thunder.  If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.  Go to safe shelter immediately.  Find shelter in a building or car.  Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles.

Keep a weather or transistor radio with fresh batteries within reach to monitor severe weather updates.


Keep flashlights with fresh batteries or candles with matches available if the electricity should get cut off.


Keep an emergency kit. It is recommended by the Red Cross that you have enough items to last for three days in a waterproof container.  Items to include: 

  • a manual can opener,

  • pocket knife,

  • several blankets,

  • a spare set of house and car keys,

  • non-perishable food and water,

  • a first aid kit as well as any prescriptions,

  • important documents and emergency phone numbers.

Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity.  Unplug appliances and avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances, computer or game systems to avoid lightning damage.

Don't take a bath or shower.

Turn off the air conditioner.  Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor and damage the air conditioner!

Draw blinds and shades over windows.  If windows break due to objects being blown by the wind of a storm, then the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.

Establish a designated room in the house where all family members can safely ride out a severe storm.  Typically an interior room on the lowest floor of a house or building away from windows.


Make sure everyone knows where to meet after a severe storm in case they become separated from the rest of the family.


Have occasional drills.


If the power goes out, check to see if the neighbors have power; you may have a blown fuse or tripped circuit braker. 


Treat all downed wires as live and NEVER touch them.


Report all power outages to your local Municipal Utilities company.  DO NOT CALL 9-1-1 for an outage unless it is a medical, fire, or police emergency.

If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.

If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter right away!

If you can go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles or metal objects.  Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.

Become a very small target!  Squat low to the ground.  Place your hands on your knees with your head between them.  Make yourself the smallest target possible.

Do not lie flat on the ground - this will make you a larger target!

Thunder won't hurt you but lightning will!  So it's important to pay attention when you hear thunder.

The sound of thunder reaches us after we have seen the lightning.  By counting the time between the flash of lightning and the sound of the thunder, you can tell about how far away the storm is.  If it is five seconds between the lightning and the thunder, the storm is about 1 mile away. 

Despite their small size, all thunderstorms are dangerous.  Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes.  Heavy rain from thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding.  Strong winds, hail, and tornadoes are also dangers associated with some thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms are most likely to occur in the spring and summer months and during the afternoon and evening hours but they can occur year-round and at all hours of the day or night.  Pay attention to weather forecasts during early parts of the day so you can stay prepared.  Keep in mind that severe weather can strike at any time.


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