7 Tips for Staying Safe During a Storm: Essential Advice for Everyone

June 25, 2024 7 min read

Storms can be unpredictable and dangerous, posing various risks to your safety. Being prepared with practical tips can help you navigate these challenges effectively.

Dark storm clouds loom overhead as lightning flashes and thunder rumbles. Trees sway in the strong wind, and rain pours down heavily, creating puddles on the ground

Knowing how to protect yourself during a storm is crucial for your safety and well-being. This article will provide essential strategies to ensure you stay safe and secure when faced with severe weather conditions.

1) Create an Emergency Kit

Having an emergency kit ready can make a significant difference during a storm.

Start with the basics: water, non-perishable food, and medications. Ensure you have enough supplies to last at least three days.

Include a flashlight, batteries, and a first aid kit. These items can be crucial if the power goes out or if someone gets injured.

Don't forget personal items such as hygiene products, important documents, and a change of clothes. Pack copies of IDs, insurance papers, and any critical medical information in a waterproof container.

A battery-powered or hand-crank radio can keep you updated on the storm’s progress and emergency broadcasts. A portable phone charger is also essential to maintain communication if the power goes out.

If you have pets, include items for their care—food, water, and any medications they may need. A few comfort items can also help keep them calm.

Keep your emergency kit in an easily accessible location. Regularly check and update its contents to ensure everything is in working order and hasn't expired.

2) Know your evacuation routes

Familiarize yourself with the evacuation routes in your area before any storm strikes. Emergency services often provide maps and detailed instructions for safe evacuation. These resources can typically be found online or at community centers.

Identify multiple evacuation routes. This ensures you have alternatives if your primary path becomes blocked or unsafe. Plan your escape routes to include the safest and most efficient roads.

Practice your evacuation plan with your family. Discuss the routes and designate a meeting point. Familiarity with the plan helps reduce panic during an emergency.

Keep your vehicle fueled and ready. In case you need to leave quickly, a car with a full tank ensures you won’t get stranded. Verify your car’s emergency kit is adequately stocked.

Stay informed about the weather and follow local authority instructions. They provide updates about which routes are safe to use and which areas to avoid. Sign up for emergency alerts to receive timely information.

3) Stay Informed with Weather Updates

Stay connected with reliable weather sources. You can use a weather app on your smartphone or tune in to local news updates. Real-time information helps you make informed decisions during a storm.

Enable weather alerts on your devices. These alerts can provide crucial information about changing conditions, evacuation orders, and safety advice. Make sure your phone is charged and has backup power options.

Follow trusted social media accounts. Official meteorological services, emergency management agencies, and local government pages often share timely updates and safety tips. Avoid unverified sources to prevent misinformation.

Regularly check in with neighbors and community groups. Sharing information can build a network of support and increase overall preparedness.

4) Secure Outdoor Furniture

During a storm, outdoor furniture can become dangerous projectiles.

Begin by moving smaller items like chairs, tables, and potted plants indoors.

For larger items that can't be moved inside, use strong ropes or bungee cords to anchor them securely.

Ensure that umbrellas are closed and tied down properly.

Check that any outdoor storage units or sheds are locked tight.

If you have a barbecue grill, disconnect the gas tank and store both in a safe place.

Taking these steps helps prevent damage to your property and injury to those around you.

5) Keep important documents safe

Store important documents in a waterproof container. This includes identification papers, property deeds, and medical records.

Make digital copies of essential papers. Save them on a secure cloud service or an external hard drive.

Consider placing original documents in a safe deposit box. Bank vaults are often more secure than home storage during a storm.

Ensure you have quick access to your insurance information. This can help in the event of property damage or loss.

Keep an updated list of all critical documents. This helps ensure nothing is forgotten or misplaced in an emergency.

Label your document container clearly. This can save time when you need to grab it quickly.

6) Charge all electronic devices

Before the storm hits, ensure all your electronic devices are fully charged. This includes your phone, tablet, and any portable chargers. A charged device can be a vital lifeline during power outages.

Keep power banks and backup batteries ready. They can provide essential extra power when you need it most. Make sure they are also fully charged.

If you have a laptop, charge it too. It can serve as an additional power source for other devices if needed. Consider downloading important information or apps to access offline.

Remember to charge any necessary medical devices. These can include hearing aids, CPAP machines, or other essential equipment. Ensure you have spare batteries if they are battery-operated.

Maintain your devices in low-power mode to conserve battery life. Reducing screen brightness and limiting app usage can extend their duration. Prioritize essential communications and updates.

7) Have a family communication plan

Establishing a family communication plan is crucial during a storm. Ensure everyone knows the plan in advance.

Designate a single point of contact outside your immediate area. This person can relay information if local lines are down.

Make sure every family member has the contact information written down. This list should include phone numbers and email addresses.

Choose a primary and secondary meeting place. This helps if you must evacuate and get separated.

Discuss different scenarios with your family. Practice these scenarios periodically.

Have a backup plan for communication. Consider using text messages, social media, or emergency radios.

Keep your phones charged and have backup power sources. This ensures you can stay in touch during a power outage.

Understanding Storms

Storms are natural phenomena that can vary significantly in nature and severity. It is crucial to be aware of the different types of storms and how weather alerts can help you stay prepared and safe.

Types of Storms

Thunderstorms are common and can produce heavy rain, lightning, hail, and even tornadoes. They typically last for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. They can cause significant damage and appear with little warning.

Hurricanes are large, organized systems of clouds and thunderstorms that originate over tropical waters. These systems can bring strong winds, heavy rain, and flooding.

Blizzards bring severe winter weather with strong winds, heavy snowfall, and reduced visibility. They can last for several hours or even days.

Weather Alerts and Warnings

Watch means that conditions are favorable for a specific type of severe weather. You should stay informed and be prepared to take action if the situation escalates.

Warning indicates that severe weather is imminent or already occurring. You need to take immediate protective measures to ensure your safety.

Advisory is issued for less severe weather conditions that could still pose a threat. This means you should be cautious and take appropriate actions to stay safe.

Emergency Alerts are often used for the most extreme situations, such as tornadoes or flash floods, where immediate action is required. Pay close attention to these alerts for critical information.

Home Preparedness

Preparation helps protect your home and family in a storm. Secure your property and create an emergency kit to stay safe.

Securing Your Property

Ensure windows and doors are storm-proof. Install storm shutters or use plywood to cover windows. Confirm your roof is secure by checking for loose shingles. Trim trees and shrubs to prevent debris from damaging your house.

Secure outdoor items like furniture, grills, and tools by bringing them inside or anchoring them. Review your home insurance policy to make sure it covers storm damage.

Elevate essential appliances and utilities, such as water heaters and electrical panels, to avoid water damage. Inspect your sump pump to confirm it's working properly.

Creating an Emergency Kit

Prepare an emergency kit with essentials. Include:

  • Water: One gallon per person per day for at least three days
  • Food: Non-perishable items for at least three days
  • First aid supplies
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Personal hygiene items

Pack a manual can opener for non-perishable food, and include blankets, clothing, and sturdy shoes. Store personal documents like IDs and insurance papers in waterproof containers.

Add any necessary medications and a list of emergency contacts. Ensure you have a multi-tool and a whistle to signal for help. Prepare pet supplies if you have animals.

Staying Safe During a Storm

Staying safe during a storm involves taking specific actions whether you are indoors or outdoors. Each setting requires unique steps to ensure you remain unharmed.

Indoor Safety Measures

When indoors during a storm, unplug electronic devices to prevent damage from power surges. Stay away from windows to avoid potential injury from shattered glass.

Secure loose items inside your home to prevent them from becoming hazards. If the storm includes strong winds or tornadoes, take shelter in a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor.

Have a flashlight and extra batteries ready in case of a power outage. Avoid using corded phones and plumbing fixtures, as lightning can travel through electrical and plumbing systems.

Outdoor Safety Tips

If you find yourself outside, seek shelter immediately to avoid exposure to hazardous conditions. Stay clear of tall structures like trees, poles, and towers that attract lightning.

Avoid water bodies such as lakes or pools, as water conducts electricity. If shelter is unavailable, crouch low with minimal contact to the ground, ideally in a low-lying area that is not prone to flooding.

Remain vigilant of your surroundings to avoid flying debris. Stay informed with a hand-crank or battery-operated weather radio to receive updates and emergency instructions.