There are dozens of extreme weather events the National Weather Service tracks -- from hail storms to hurricanes, thunderstorms to tornadoes, heat waves to wildfires.
Preparing for each of these takes different kinds of understanding and preparation. But there are three actions common to them all that people can take to survive.
First, stay informed. That means listening to weather reports and setting alerts that can be transmitted to your handheld device or computer. Technology has come a long way in this area. Everything from red flag warnings of wildfires to tornado watches can be pre-programmed to give you a heads up that danger is approaching.
The NWS disseminates alerts and warnings through NOAA Weather Radio, NOAA Weather Wire Service, and Weather.gov; it does not provide these warnings through email or texts, however. Still, there are myriad third-party service providers that will relay text and email warnings, or provide apps that can be downloaded free of charge or for a small fee. Of course, social media is also a fine way to learn if you are at risk. Standard television and radio broadcasts also can be tuned in.
Second, have an emergency kit ready. A basic kit should include dry food and water for every person in your household (that means one gallon per person per day. Keep a three-day supply in case of evacuation and a two-week supply in case you get confined to your home); at least one flashlight and an extra supply of batteries; a battery-powered radio or one that can be powered by a hand crank (if possible, a NOAA Weather Radio is ideal as it provides a steady stream of weather reports and alerts); a first aid kit; any medications required; a multipurpose tool; a whistle; matches or butane lighters; personal hygiene items; copies of important documents; a mobile phone fully charged with a backup battery and charger; emergency contact information; extra cash or currency; a blanket; and a map of your location and surrounding areas.
Third, have a plan. That means not only a household action plan (an agreed upon list of what to do and who's responsible for, say, moving furniture, minding pets, turning of the power, etc.) but evacuation routes, meet-up locations, and whom to contact in case of emergency. These "ICE" numbers can and should be logged into mobile phones because first responders are trained to look for them on incapacitated individuals.
With heightened extreme weather and more natural disasters surely to come, these three steps at a minimum should be taken to help you prepare to survive.