Weather Safety Tips

Tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms. They may strike quickly with little or no warning. Stay tuned to radio or TV for weather updates.

The National Weather Service (NWS) encourages radio and TV stations to use the following terms to communicate storm conditions:

Tornado Safety tips and Checklist
  • Tornado Watch means that tornadoes are possible. Watch the sky and stay tuned to broadcasts for information.
  • Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado funnel has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter when you hear a Tornado Warning for your area.

Warning Sirens
The City of Cedar Hill operates over a dozen outdoor storm warning sirens. Whenever severe weather approaches, the City dispatches storm spotters to key locations in the city to watch for tornadoes and potentially dangerous storms. Emergency Service personnel monitor national weather service reports, local TV broadcasts, and radar.

When dangerous storms are imminent, emergency sirens are activated in all parts of the city. When you hear a siren, prepare to take shelter immediately. If caught outside, or on the road, lie in a ditch or low area. Avoid bridges or overpasses. Don't try to outrun a tornado.

Storm sirens are designed to warn citizens who are outdoors to take cover. Some residents may not be able to clearly hear the sirens indoors. Do not depend solely on these sirens to alert you of approaching severe weather. Do not call 911 to ask why the sirens have been activated.

When there is a chance for severe weather, tune your TV or radio to a local station to stay informed on recent developments and predictions. For even more information you can purchase a NOAA weather radio for your home or business which will broadcast an alert when severe weather approaches.

What To Do
If a tornado or storm system with high winds approaches, go to a basement or an interior hallway on the ground floor, or a small inner room such as a bathroom or closet.

  • Stay away from the windows and outside walls of the building.
  • Avoid spaces with wide-span roofs such as family great rooms, auditoriums, cafeterias, or shopping malls.
  • Get under a sturdy piece of furniture such as a heavy table or desk and hold onto it.
  • If in a mobile home, get out and seek shelter elsewhere.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management urges Texans to review their personal plans in the event of a serious emergency.  Family members may not all be in the same place when disasters strike, so it is important to ensure your family and friends know what to do when the threat of a disaster is nearby or directly impacts your community. Make sure you establish plans to address communications, have an emergency kit, and make other necessary preparations that will assist in keeping you safe.

The following links can assist with building a plan and checklists of items that will help prepare you and your family for a disaster:
Thunderstorms & Lightning
A severe thunderstorm watch is issued by the NWS when weather conditions are such that a severe thunderstorm is likely to develop.

A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when a severe thunderstorm has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

All thunderstorms are dangerous and every thunderstorm is capable of producing lightning strikes as far as 10 miles away from rainfall. If the probability of a severe storm is present follow these guidelines:
  • Take shelter inside a home, building or hardtop vehicle
  • Postpone outdoor activities
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage
  • Close window blinds, shades or curtains and secure outside doors
  • Unplug electrical equipment to avoid damage from lightning spikes
  • Be prepared for storm-caused power outages with flashlights and fresh batteries
  • Use a battery-operated radio for weather updates
Flash floods occasionally follow thunderstorms in this area. Be especially aware of flood hazards if you live in a low-lying area.

Even very small streams, creeks and streets can be dangerous in a flash flood as they carry rocks and debris in the very powerful water surge.
  • Listen to radio or TV reports about flooding in your area
  • Be prepared to move to higher ground should flood waters begin to rise
  • Turn off utilities at the main switch. Do not touch electrical equipment or wires if you are wet or standing in water
  • Do not walk through moving water. Only six inches of moving water can cause you to fall
  • Do not drive on flooded streets. There may be hidden low spots that can cause your vehicle to stall or even be washed into a swollen stream. If your car stalls, abandon it quickly, if it is possible, to safely reach higher ground
  • Do not drive around or through barricades or past stalled vehicles
Extreme Heat
Texas summers are notoriously hot. When humidity is added to the heat an extreme heat emergency can occur. There are several terms used to identify heat hazards:
  • heat wave is a prolonged period of excess heat, combined with excessive humidity
  • The heat index is a calculation in degrees Fahrenheit to tell how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to air temperature
  • Heat cramps occur when muscles ache and spasm due to heavy exertion and may be the first sigh the body is in heat distress
  • Heat exhaustion occurs when people exert themselves in hot, humid conditions resulting in body fluid loss through heavy sweating. Mild shock may result
  • Heat stroke or sun stroke occurs when the body's temperature control system fails. Brain damage and death may result if body temperatures are not cooled
Precautions when it is extremely hot:
  • Stay indoors in a ventilated area and out of the sun
  • If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor and near a fan
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, shopping malls or community facilities
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit alcoholic beverage consumption
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight clothing
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who spend time alone
  • Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle, even for a minute
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day
Winter Storm - Ice
Some winters we get ice storms that cause major roadway problems. The weight of freezing precipitation can cause power lines to fall and leave many without electricity. Very cold temperatures can cause problems with freezing pipes and the leaks and breaks that show up when things thaw.

There are several ways to keep up with what's going on. Watch local TV to see if schools are closed during winter storms.

For information on city facilities with delayed openings or closings check the home page of the city website

Sign up to receive the city's Twitter notices at (it works on your computer or smart phone).

Sign up to receive emails from the city via Notify Me. Sign up for "City Notices".

The city encourages you to sign up to receive critical notices by phone, email and SMS. The city uses a system that contacts phone numbers in the white pages, but we recommend residents visit the link above to add cell phones and email addresses to make sure you receive these important messages. Your information is not shared with anyone else.

Be sure to prepare for extended storm-related power outages with a supply of candles, matches, flashlights and batteries, a battery-powered radio some canned food (and a manual opener) and water.
If cell phones are working, conserve battery power by limiting non-essential calls. You may be able to recharge the battery using a laptop computer.

Damaged Trees Can Be Dangerous
The aftermath of many Texas storms involves cleaning up branches and downed trees. Texas Forest Service reminds homeowners to be careful with damaged trees. Trunks and branches are heavy and should be considered dangerous until they can be brought to the ground. Limbs as small as two inches can cause injury if they fall on someone.
Watch for downed power lines. Assume any line is hot until proven otherwise. Beware of broken glass.

"It is a common occurrence to have people survive storms and natural disasters only to be injured while cleaning up afterwards,” said John Giedraitis, state urban forest coordinator. “We want people to be as safe as possible while dealing with damaged and fallen trees.”

Take caution when pruning small branches and leave the heavy chainsaw work to professionals. Look up for broken limbs that may fall, and look down to avoid fallen power lines. Any damage to limbs within 10 ft. of power lines needs the work of a professional arborist. They have the equipment and knowledge needed, and are usually listed in the telephone book under “Tree Service.” Ask for certification through the International Society of Arboriculture.

Be cautious of tree services soliciting door to door. A qualified arborist should have Workers’ Compensation insurance, liability insurance and experience in the tree care industry. If their services include tree topping, beware. Tree topping is the worst treatment for trees because it reduces the amount of leaves the tree needs to recover from the storm on its own.

Check with your city or county officials to see if they are providing assistance with disposal of tree debris from private property.