We all know Spring Showers Bring May Flowers, but along with these showers there can be dangerous thunderstorms, lightning, hail, tornadoes, strong winds and even wildfires. Take these tips compiled from FEMA and Ready.gov to ensure that your family and property stays safe when Mother Nature strikes. Being prepared is key!
Before Thunderstorm and Lightning
To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
- Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
- Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
- Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.
Lightning Risk Reduction When Outdoors
If you are:
In a forest: Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
In an open area: Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
On open water: Get to land and find shelter immediately.
Facts about Thunderstorms
- They may occur singly, in clusters or in lines.
- Some of the most severe occur when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended time.
- Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
- Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorm development.
- About 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe – one that produces hail at least an inch or larger in diameter, has winds of 58 miles per hour or higher or produces a tornado.
Facts about Lightning
- Lightning’s unpredictability increases the risk to individuals and property.
- Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
- “Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away from thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
- Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
- Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000 but could be reduced even further by following safety precautions.
- Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
Know the Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a thunderstorm hazard:
Severe Thunderstorm Watch – Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning – Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.
Listen to Local Officials
Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
During Thunderstorms and Lightning
If thunderstorm and lightning are occurring in your area, you should:
- Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
- Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
- Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
- Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
- Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
- Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
- Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
- Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
- 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.
After a Thunderstorm or Lightning Strike
After the storm passes remember to:
- Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don’t drown!
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.
- Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
- Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
- Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
- Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.
Two Dangers That Can Accompany a Severe Thunderstorm: Floods & Tornadoes
Flood Facts & Tips
Flooding is a threat from coast to coast. Sometimes floods develop slowly and forecasters can anticipate where a flood will happen, but flash floods can occur within minutes. Being prepared can save your life, help protect your home and belongings, and give you peace of mind.
- Know what to do before, during and after a flood.
- Flood waters can damage important papers, so store critical documents in a waterproof container or electronically.
- Prepare for a flood by installing a water alarm in your home or basement.
- A few inches of water in a 1,000-square-foot home could cost more than $10,000 in repairs and replacement of personal possessions.
- Flood insurance can take 30 days to take effect, so purchase now to protect your family
- Listen to local officials by radio, TV or social media.
- Evacuate when advised by authorities or if you are in a flood or flash flood prone area.
- If you are on high ground above flooded areas, being prepared to stay where you are may be the best protection.
- Avoid walking in floodwater. It can be contaminated with oil, gasoline or sewage.
- Stay away from electrical utility equipment after a storm.
- Never drive or walk through flooded streets; Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
- Do not go through flood waters.
Tornado Facts & Tips
Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, they can devastate a neighborhood in seconds with little to no warning. Here are some quick facts you should know about tornadoes:
- They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
- They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
- The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
- The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.
- Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
- Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
- Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
- Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
- Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 pm and 9 pm, but can occur at any time.
- If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately! Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
|If you are in:||Then:|
|A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building)||Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a small interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.Put on sturdy shoes.Do not open windows.|
|A manufactured home or office||Get out immediately and go to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.|
The outside with no shelter
If you are not in a sturdy building, there is no single research-based recommendation for what last-resort action to take because many factors can affect your decision. Possible actions include:Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.In all situations:Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
After a tornado strikes:
- Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
- Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
- Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
- If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust.
- Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, so that rescuers can locate you.
- Stay out of damaged buildings and homes until local authorities indicate it is safe.
- Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
- Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
- If your home is without power, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.
Additional ResourcesRelated Websites
Find additional information on how to plan and prepare for a thunderstorm and learn about available resources by visiting the following websites:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- NOAA Watch
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Lightning
- American Red Cross
Centauri Insurance Resources
Find more useful tips on Centauri’s website:
Disaster Preparedness – Are You Ready?Severe Weather ResourcesCreating a Home Inventory Checklist
Facts, information and safety recommendations in this article are provided by FEMA and Ready.gov.
Taking these simple precautions along with investing in the right insurance coverages can help provide peace of mind for homeowners. If you have questions regarding your policies and coverages, please contact your agent. For information about insurance products through Centauri Insurance and other tips, visit us online at www.centauriinsurance.com and talk to your local insurance agent.