Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Staying Ahead of Severe Weather: How to Prepare and Safety Tips for When the Storm Comes

written by Lilly Watson, staff contributor

Rain showers and thunderstorms are a natural weather pattern from our big Texas sky, but what might be thought of as a typical storm can turn severe and even life threatening quickly. You can prepare yourself and your family ahead of the storm by working through a simple preparedness checklist and following some precautionary advice for when the storm starts to roll through. The Weather Channel and the American Red Cross are both huge advocates of storm safety preparedness, so much so that we've teamed up together to help you have the best ways possible to get ready for severe weather.

See more about the Red Cross partnership with The Weather Channel in the video below!

This Family Preparedness Checklist from The Weather Channel is a great list for anyone living in Texas or a climate that often sees storm patterns on the radar. Try knocking off a few from your list each week and soon you'll be ready for the upcoming storm season!
  • Remove dead or rotting trees that could fall on your house or property if struck by lightning.
  • Move inside your house or garage anything on your property that could become flying debris.
  • Unplug any appliances or electronic equipment.
  • Inventory all valuables in the home with pictures or video. Note the approximate value of each item and date of purchase.
  • Make sure important documents, such as an insurance policy or mortgage papers, are stored in a safe-deposit or safe box.
  • Read and understand your insurance policy, especially disclosures.
  • Examine your homeowners' coverage, as well as auto policies.
  • Be sure you have adequate coverage and deductibles reasonable for your needs.
  • If you have expensive or specialty items (e.g. jewelry, furs, silverware, cameras, collectibles, etc.), speak with your agent about broader coverage, as limits do apply under a homeowners' policy.
  • Sign up for The Weather Channel's severe weather mobile alerts.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for important updates.
  • Consider buying a whole-house surge protector. Whole-house surge protection can protect against lightning strikes or damaged power lines that could cause a fire.
  • Protect mementos in waterproof containers and/or take the items with you if you evacuate.
  • Take care of your pets. Doghouses aren't lightning-safe, and dogs that are tied to trees or other tall objects can also be hit by lightning.
A key way to stay safe is to check your weather forecast, know what is expected in your area and plan accordingly, such as limiting or cancelling outdoor activity. If you do get caught outdoors during a storm, you can stay safe by remaining calm and doing the following

  • If you are in a forested area, find shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees, if possible.
  • If you are on open water, get to land immediately and seek shelter.
  • If you are in a car, keep the windows closed.
  • If you are outdoors and feel your hair stand on end (an indication that lightning is about to strike), do not lie flat on the ground, as your fully-extended body will provide a larger surface to conduct electricity. Instead, squat low to the ground and place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. The goal is to make you the smallest target possible and minimize contact with the ground.
  • Stay away from anything made of metal ”“ bicycles, golf clubs, golf carts, motorcycles, tractors and farm equipment.
  • Stay away from natural lightning rods, such as a tall tree in an open field, and avoid hilltops, the beach or boats on open water.
Just because you are indoors, there are still precautionary steps you should take to stya completely out of harm's way, including

  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. Also, close your window blinds, shades or curtains, and keep a safe distance from them.
  • Secure any objects outside your home that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Stay away from faucets, sinks, showers and bathtubs. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Avoid using a corded (landline) telephone during a thunderstorm, for the same reason. Cellular/mobile phones are safe to use.
  • Unplug electrical appliances such as televisions, computers and corded phones, and turn off air conditioners. Power surges that occur as the result of lightning can cause severe damage to plugged-in electronics and appliances.
  • Keep pets inside, on a leash or in a crate or carrier.
  • Make sure you have a battery-powered radio or NOAA Weather Radio so you can receive weather alerts and storm updates if you lose power.
To learn more safety tips and to see how the Red Cross helps those affected by disaster every day, visit redcross.org.


  1. It would be a good idea to stay close of any windows or shutters at the time. Avoid anywhere that is a space vacuum.

    -Samudaworth Tree Service


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