We all live in areas that can potentially be adversely affected by severe weather. Here are some preventative measures to take, suggestions on safely waiting out a storm, and steps to begin assessing damage to your property after a storm.
Preparing for a storm:
- Listen to weather reports via tv, radio, or apps to know what to expect. If you are being told to evacuate, follow those instructions immediately. Tell loved ones what your plans are and communicate with them as you move toward a safe location.
- Have a plan in place that is familiar to your family. Keep a fresh water supply available as well as non-perishable food, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, a first aid kit, supplies for any pets or small children you have, personal hygiene items, multi-purpose tool kit, copies of important papers, phone chargers, blankets, and a lot of batteries. Having extra cash available is also a good idea.
- For hurricanes, board up windows. And for any type of heavy wind, bring inside lose outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, trash cans, and toys. Keep your trees pruned so that branches are not likely to break off during a storm.
- Rent or purchase a generator in case you lose electricity.
During a Storm (Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Severe Thunderstorms):
- Get indoors and stay away from windows, moving to the center of your home or your basement.
- Refrain from taking a shower, washing hands or doing dishes. Avoid contact with corded devices such as video games or hairdryers.
- If you must remain outdoors, do not seek shelter under trees or near power lines.
- Wait 30 minutes after the storm passes to assess the damage or resume activities.
- If you must remain in your vehicle on the road, park away from trees and power lines.
- If flooding is occurring, stay off the roads. If you must drive and you encounter a flooded roadway, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising around you, quickly get out of the car and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Standing floodwaters can also be very dangerous. Keep children and pets away from them. If power lines are down, don’t step in puddles or standing water.
During a Blizzard:
- When a winter storm hits, stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress for the weather. Outer clothing should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Wear mittens – they are warmer than gloves – and a hat, as significant body heat is lost through these extremities.
- If your car gets stuck in a blizzard or snowstorm, stay in your car. The first thing you should do is contact someone to let them know where you are in case your stuck for a long time. Allow fresh air in your car by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side – away from the wind. You can run the car engine about 10 minutes every half-hour if the exhaust system is not blocked with snow. To keep your hands and feet warm, exercise them periodically. In general, it is a good idea to keep moving to avoid falling asleep.
After the Storm:
- Take pictures of damage and call your insurance agent.
- List lost or damaged items. Keep receipts for any damaged items you repair.
- Get claim forms.
Finally, a good resource for these occasions is the Red Cross Emergency app which will keep you informed with alerts, shelter locations and safety advice. The Red Cross First Aid app also helps you handle the most common emergencies. Find these free apps in your app store or visit (https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps.html).