If you caught the news and the weather forecasters are saying a thunderstorm watch is in your area, it’s time to take action. By preparing for a possible power outage and other disaster situations, you’ll get peace of mind knowing you can tackle whatever Mother Nature throws at you. In fact, start preparing now for summer’s violent thunderstorms so you’ll be ready when they arrive.
Thunder and Lightning
You may love to sit out on your porch and watch the thunder and lightning storm move in. However, you may want to get inside to stay safe. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which remains one of the top three storm-related killers in this country, according to Ready.gov. In 2010, nearly 29 fatalities and 182 injuries were reported as a result of lightning strikes. Most victims do survive, but they may suffer long-term symptoms, such as memory loss. Other dangers that are inherent in thunderstorms include tornadoes, wind, flash floods and hail.
Preparations Before the Storm
Before the storm strikes, make sure you have an emergency kit on hand, which should contain enough food and water for a few days, as well as first aid supplies and prescriptions. Go over a family communication plan as well so every member knows what they should do and where they should meet up. Trim back dead branches that hang over your house. In high winds, those rotting, unstable branches can fall onto your house, doing real damage depending on the size. Review the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule put forth by the National Weather Service, which recommends counting to 30 when you see lightning. If thunder hits before you get to 30, head into the house and remain there for 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder clap. If you have any outdoor activities scheduled, cancel or postpone them. Secure grill covers, sandbox covers, toys and anything else that can blow away. Unplug all electronic equipment and shutter your windows.
Every year before the summer, sit down with the family and go over a plan for when a severe thunderstorm hits. Come up with a central location where you will all meet in case the power does go out, recommends the American Red Cross. Create a stockpile that contains enough non-perishable food and gallons of water to last at least a few days, preferably more. A good rule of thumb for water is to have one gallon per person for each day. You’ll also need to include batteries and flashlights, a battery-powered radio, fully charged cell phones, personal hygiene items, medical items, diapers if necessary and prescriptions. Make sure you have some cash on hand in case the power is out for awhile. Sometimes ATMs and gas stations lose power during times of severe storms and you may not be able to use your credit cards.
During the Storm
At the peak of the storm, stay out of the shower and refrain from using any other plumbing. Hearing the rumble of thunder means you are close enough to the lightning to be struck. Stay indoors and away from all windows until the storm is over. If you find yourself outdoors when a thunder and lightning storm strikes, seek shelter immediately. If in an open area, try to locate the lowest place such as a ravine. Avoid anything metal, which means if you’re out on the golf course, don’t haul your golf clubs and meander around in your golf cart. Following these simple tips can save your life in the event of a severe storm.