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Be prepared to power through severe thunderstorms

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Severe thunderstorm warning. Those words quickly capture the attention of residents when the skies darken and the storm clouds gather.

Interstate Batteries Technical Services Manager Gale Kimbrough, also known as "Mr. Battery," encourages residents to be prepared for severe weather by stocking up ahead of time with emergency preparedness items. These include flashlights, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible), extra batteries, cellphones with charger, and other battery-operated and power-generating items that would be useful during a severe storm.

 Kimbrough recommends following the American Red Cross emergency preparedness guidelines in preparation before and response during a severe thunderstorm:

Red Cross Severe Thunderstorm Preparation Tips:

1. Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail.

2. Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.

3. Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.

4. If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.

5. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.

6. Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.

7. Shut windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.

8. Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing during a severe storm.

9. If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

10. If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.

"Being prepared is imperative, especially when storms are developing, but it requires planning ahead," Kimbrough said. "We've helped countless people and relief organizations power through storms. Our Interstate All Battery Center team is on hand to help families stay safe during severe weather."

 For more severe thunderstorm preparedness information, visit the American Red Cross emergency preparedness website at redcross.org/prepare/disaster/thunderstorm.