7 Tips for Staying Safe During a Storm: Essential Precautions and Measures

July 08, 2024 6 min read

Storms can be both fascinating and terrifying, bringing with them a mix of awe-inspiring natural power and potential danger. When a storm is imminent, it is crucial to take certain precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.

Dark clouds loom over a house with a sturdy roof and secured windows. Trees bend in the wind as lightning strikes in the distance. A flashlight and emergency kit sit ready inside

Knowing how to stay safe during a storm can make a significant difference in preventing harm. By adopting a few key habits and being prepared, you can effectively protect yourself and your loved ones from the severe impacts of stormy weather.

1) Keep Emergency Kit

It's essential to have an emergency kit ready before a storm hits. Make sure your kit contains items like water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, and extra batteries. These basics are crucial for sustenance and visibility if the power goes out.

Include a first-aid kit with essential medications, bandages, and antiseptics. Having these readily available can prevent minor injuries from becoming more serious.

A battery-powered or crank radio is important for receiving weather updates and emergency information. Communication tools like a fully charged phone and a portable charger are also vital.

Pack a multi-tool, duct tape, and plastic sheeting. These items aid in minor repairs and can provide temporary shelter if necessary. Don't forget personal hygiene items like hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, and sanitation bags.

Blankets, warm clothing, and sturdy shoes are necessary to keep warm and protected. Also, consider your pets' needs by including their food, water, and any medications they might require.

Store everything in a durable, waterproof container. This ensures your supplies remain intact and usable when you need them most. Regularly check and update your emergency kit to replace expired items and adjust based on your current needs.

2) Charge Electronic Devices

Before a storm hits, make sure all your electronic devices are fully charged. This includes your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and any portable chargers you have. These devices can be crucial for communication and accessing important information.

Consider having extra power banks on hand. They provide an additional source of power if the electricity goes out. Ensure these power banks are also fully charged well before the storm is expected to arrive.

Your devices should also have any important apps or updates installed, specifically those that can provide emergency alerts or weather updates. This will keep you informed even if the situation changes rapidly.

If possible, avoid using your devices unnecessarily once the storm starts. Preserve battery life for essential communications and critical updates only. Enabling power-saving modes can help extend their usage time.

Investing in a solar charger might be a useful backup plan. It allows you to harness energy from the sun to charge your devices if you are without power for an extended period.

3) Stay Indoors

When a storm is approaching, make sure you stay indoors. This is one of the safest places you can be.

Close all windows and doors to prevent strong winds and rain from entering your home. This helps protect both you and your property.

Avoid being near windows. Strong winds can break glass, posing a risk of injury.

If you're outside when the storm hits, immediately find shelter. A sturdy building is ideal.

Do not rely on tents, pavilions, or other unstable structures. These offer little protection during severe weather.

Ensure your pets are also inside. This keeps them safe from flying debris and harsh weather conditions.

If you have a basement or storm cellar, consider staying there. These areas are often safer than upper floors.

If you must leave your home, wait until the storm has completely passed. Listen to weather updates for confirmation it is safe.

4) Avoid Floodwaters

Stay away from floodwaters at all costs. Floodwaters can be more dangerous than they appear due to strong currents and hidden debris.

Never attempt to walk, swim, or drive through floodwaters. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and a foot of water can sweep your vehicle away.

Floodwaters may contain contaminants like sewage or harmful chemicals. Contact with this water can pose serious health risks.

Turn around and find an alternative route if you encounter flooded areas. Obey road closure and caution signs.

Keep children and pets away from floodwaters. They are especially vulnerable and may not recognize the danger.

Listen to local authorities for guidance on safe routes and areas to avoid. They have the most up-to-date information.

By avoiding floodwaters, you help ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.

5) Secure outdoor items

Outdoor items secured: chairs tied down, plants brought inside. Dark clouds loom overhead, wind picking up. Follow safety tips for storm

During a storm, unsecured items can become dangerous projectiles. Ensure all outdoor furniture is either moved indoors or firmly anchored to the ground. This includes chairs, tables, and umbrellas.

Garden equipment such as lawnmowers, trimmers, and tools should be stored in a shed or garage. Small items like potted plants can be placed in a secure area away from windows.

Check that any hanging items, like bird feeders or wind chimes, are taken down or fastened securely. By doing so, you reduce the risk of damage to your property and surrounding areas. This simple step can prevent serious injuries or costly repairs.

6) Listen to weather updates

Tune in to reliable weather sources, such as the National Weather Service or local news stations. These outlets provide regular and accurate updates about storm conditions.

Use a weather radio or smartphone apps to receive alerts. Many apps offer push notifications for severe weather warnings, keeping you informed even when you're on the go.

Pay attention to emergency broadcasts. Authorities may provide essential instructions, including evacuation orders. Staying informed helps you make safe decisions for you and your family.

Check the credibility of your sources. Misinformation during a storm can be dangerous. Stick to trusted channels and avoid rumors on social media.

Constantly update yourself with the latest information. Storm conditions can change rapidly, and staying updated ensures you're prepared for new developments.

Keep an eye on changing advisories. As situations evolve, updates may include important safety measures or lifting of previous warnings. Your safety depends on accurate, current information.

7) Unplug appliances

During a storm, it's crucial to unplug appliances to protect them from power surges. Lightning strikes can cause sudden spikes in electricity, damaging your electronics.

Ensure you disconnect devices like TVs, computers, and kitchen gadgets. Even if they are turned off, they can still suffer from a surge.

Unplugging can also prevent potential fire hazards. Surge protectors might help, but they are not always foolproof.

Take care to unplug anything not necessary during the storm. Safety is the main priority, and these small steps can make a big difference.

Understanding Storm Warnings

Accurate storm warnings can save lives by giving you time to prepare. Knowing the types and how to interpret these warnings is crucial to your safety.

Types of Storm Warnings

Storm warnings come in various forms, each signaling different levels of urgency and types of weather events. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings indicate the presence of dangerous thunderstorms with hail, high winds, and potential tornadoes. Tornado Warnings are issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar. Flash Flood Warnings alert you to imminent or ongoing flooding that poses a serious risk.

Tropical Storm Warnings and Hurricane Warnings pertain to oceanic storm systems with specific wind speeds. Tropical storm warnings highlight winds between 39-73 mph, while hurricane warnings indicate winds over 74 mph. It's vital to differentiate between watches and warnings; watches mean conditions are favorable, and warnings mean the event is happening or will occur soon.

How to Interpret Weather Alerts

Weather alerts are issued through various channels, including TV, radio, and mobile notifications. Pay close attention to the language used, such as "watch" and "warning." A "watch" means conditions are ripe for a storm, while a "warning" means an event is already occurring or about to happen.

Develop a habit of checking official sources like the National Weather Service (NWS) or your local weather channels for precise information. Set up alert systems on your phone or other devices to receive real-time updates. If you hear a warning, take immediate action according to the type of storm, such as seeking shelter or evacuating if advised.

Clear instructions and quick responses can significantly increase your safety during storms.

Emergency Supplies Preparation

A family gathers non-perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries, first aid kit, and blankets in a designated safe area of their home

Having the right emergency supplies can make a critical difference during a storm. You need to be prepared with essential items and a well-organized storm emergency kit.

Essential Supplies

Stock your home with non-perishable food items. Canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and protein bars are practical choices. Keep at least one gallon of water per person per day for several days.

A reliable flashlight with extra batteries is crucial as power outages are common. A first-aid kit should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any prescription medications.

Battery-powered or hand-crank radios can provide information during a power outage. Don't forget personal hygiene items like wet wipes and sanitation supplies.

Creating a Storm Emergency Kit

Assemble your storm emergency kit in a watertight container. Include important documents such as IDs, insurance policies, and emergency contacts in a waterproof pouch. Add cash in small bills.

Pack a change of clothes and sturdy shoes for each family member. Blankets or sleeping bags will keep you warm if the heating fails.

Don’t forget pet supplies if you have animals. Ensure copies of current vaccinations and enough food for your pets. Keep the kit in a readily accessible location so you can find it quickly if needed.