Natural Hazards and Threats
Natural hazards are severe and extreme weather and climate events that occur naturally in all parts of the world; the Irving area is more vulnerable to natural hazards such as severe storms, flash flooding and tornadoes. Natural hazards become natural disasters when people’s lives and livelihoods are destroyed. Human and material losses caused by natural disasters are a major obstacle to sustainable development.
North Texas gets its fair share of extreme heat. With an extended period of extreme heat, there is often high humidity. During that time, a body can be pushed beyond its limits. Illnesses range from heat cramps to heat stroke. Young children, the elderly and those who are sick or overweight are more susceptible to extreme temperatures.
Heat safety tips:
- Stay out of the sun as much as you can. Use sunscreen.
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic and caffeine-free fluids to stay hydrated.
- Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if needed.
- Check for proper insulation in air-conditioning ducts.
- Apply weather strips to doors and windows to keep the cool air in.
Flooding can happen anywhere in the United States and is the nation's most common hazard. It can develop quickly or over a period of time. Just six inches of fast-moving water holds enough force to knock over an adult, and two feet will carry away most vehicles. Flooding actually kills more people each year than any other severe weather related hazard.
A flash flood will happen very quickly, but normal flooding happens gradually over time. Flash flooding will occur after heavy rain events and will usually end quickly. Normal flooding is a more prolonged event, taking days or even weeks for the waters to recede.
Flood Watch: There is the possibility of flooding. Tune into a NOAA weather radio or local news for additional information.
Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon.
Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is occurring or will soon occur. Tune into a NOAA weather radio or local news for additional information.
Flash flood safety tips:
- Evacuate or avoid areas subject to flash flooding, like dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
- Avoid already flooded and high-velocity flow areas - don't attempt to cross a flowing stream.
- If your vehicle stalls in flood waters, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
Once passing through a belt of cold air on the way to earth, raindrops can freeze into small blocks of ice.
Hail causes over $1 billion in damages to property, vehicles and crops yearly. The costliest hail event on record was in Fort Worth in 1995.
Hail Storm Safety Tips:
- Move cars, boats, recreational vehicles (RVs), and lawn and patio furniture into a covered area.
- Seek shelter.
- Use caution, as surfaces may become slick.
Severe thunderstorms can happen anytime throughout the year but are most prevalent during the spring months, especially from April to June.
About 1,800 thunderstorms occur around the world at any given moment. Lightning strikes the earth 100 times every second. Out of the 1,800 thunderstorms, only 5 percent become severe and only about 1 percent ever produce tornadoes.
If a thunderstorm is in your area:
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Take shelter immediately.
- If a sturdy shelter is not available, stay low. Get inside a hard-top vehicle.
- Move away from hills and high places. Avoid tall, isolated trees.
- Do not touch metal objects, including tennis rackets, baseball bats, golf clubs, bicycles, fences or metal sheds.
- Stay indoors until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
This is nature's most violent storm which can occur in many shapes and sizes. Tornadoes can be up to one mile wide and travel for long distances.
Texas averages 125 tornadoes every year, which is more than any other state. These can occur any time of year, but spring and summer are considered tornado season in this area.
A tornado watch means that the formation of tornadoes is possible. Watch the local news channels for additional information.
A tornado warning means that one has been sighted by storm spotters or detected by radar; seek shelter immediately.
Tornado safety tips:
- Designate a shelter area in your home or place of business, such as a basement, and go there during severe weather.
- If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor, and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.
- Stay away from windows.
- Don't try to outrun a tornado in your car. Leave the road immediately, evacuate the vehicle and seek shelter in a sturdy building.
- Practice your emergency plan so that everyone knows where the shelter area is in your home or office.
A winter storm can freeze everything in Irving, including the economy. Nearly every American will face winter weather at some point during their lifetime. Freezing rain, snow and ice, even though they can be fun to play in, can also cause car accidents and hypothermia. Power lines can be knocked down for an extended period of time as well.
Winter Weather Safety Tips:
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing instead of one heavy layer.
- Ensure that outer garments are water-repellent.
- Ensure that your heating source is working properly and that is well ventilated. It is important to have it serviced regularly.
- Avoid driving on overpasses and bridges. These often freeze more quickly than roads.
- Winterize your car. Flush the cooling system, replace the coolant, the wiper blades, etc. Create a Go Kit for your car in case you are stranded.
- Winterize your pipes and keep faucets dripping when the temperature falls below freezing.
- Ensure that you animals have plenty of food, water and shelter for extreme weather conditions.
An earthquake is the violent shaking of the earth caused by a sudden movement of rock beneath its surface. Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning at any time of the year and at any time of the day or night.
Millions of earthquakes occur around the world every year, and the vast majority are minor. Irving’s quakes range from 2.1 to 3.6, which are considered minor.
Earthquake Safety Tips
- When in a high-rise building, move against an interior wall if you are not near a desk or table. Protect your head and neck with your arms. Do not use the elevators.
- When outdoors, move to a clear area away from trees, signs, buildings, or downed electrical wires and poles.
- When on a sidewalk near buildings, duck into a doorway to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass, plaster and other debris.
- When driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses and power lines. Stay inside your vehicle until the shaking stops.
- When in a crowded store or other public place, move away from display shelves containing objects that could fall. Do not rush for the exit.
- When in a stadium or theater, stay in your seat, get below the level of the back of the seat and cover your head and neck with your arms.