7 Tips for Staying Safe During a Storm: Essential Strategies to Protect Yourself and Your Property

July 01, 2024 6 min read

Storms can strike quickly and with little warning, creating potentially hazardous conditions for anyone caught in their path. It is critical to prepare yourself and your loved ones to ensure your safety during these events.

Dark storm clouds loom overhead as lightning strikes in the distance. Rain pours down, and strong winds bend trees. A house is secured with boarded windows and a generator hums in the background

How can you effectively protect yourself and minimize risks during a storm? This article presents practical tips to help you stay safe when facing severe weather conditions. By following these guidelines, you can take proactive steps to manage the challenges that come with powerful storms.

1) Secure Outdoor Objects

Before a storm hits, bring lightweight outdoor items like patio furniture, toys, and gardening tools inside. These can become dangerous projectiles in high winds.

Larger objects, such as grills and larger planters, should be anchored down. Use strong ropes or chains to tie them securely to fixed structures.

Check trees and shrubs for loose branches. Trim them if necessary to prevent them from falling or causing damage.

Make sure trash cans are either brought inside or secured with heavy-duty lids. Loose items in trash bins can easily get blown away.

If you have a shed, ensure it's locked and items inside are properly stored. This can minimize potential damages both to your property and neighbors.

Stay vigilant about any items that could become hazards. Doing so can significantly reduce risk and keep your environment safer.

2) Create an emergency kit

An emergency kit is essential for staying safe during a storm. Gather items that will help you survive and stay comfortable if you lose power or need to evacuate.

Include non-perishable food, water, and any necessary medications. Store enough supplies to last at least three days for each person in your household.

Don't forget a flashlight, batteries, and a battery-operated or hand-crank radio. These items will help you stay informed and navigate during power outages.

Pack a first aid kit with bandages, antiseptics, and any other medical supplies you may need.

Include personal hygiene items such as hand sanitizer, wipes, and toiletries. These can help maintain cleanliness and health when resources are limited.

Consider including multi-purpose tools and a manual can opener. They're invaluable for opening cans and making basic repairs.

Add important documents, cash, and a mobile phone charger. Be sure documents are stored in a waterproof container to protect them from damage.

Don't neglect comfort items like blankets, clothing, and sturdy shoes. These will help keep you warm and dry in various conditions.

Prepare your emergency kit in advance and keep it in an easily accessible place. This ensures you're ready to act quickly when a storm hits.

3) Stay indoors and away from windows

Dark storm clouds loom outside a cozy home. Curtains are drawn shut, and a "Stay indoors" sign is posted on the door. Lightning flashes in the distance

During a storm, it’s crucial to stay inside. The safest place is an interior room. This reduces the risk of injury from flying debris and broken glass.

Avoid windows and glass doors. High winds can shatter them, sending glass shards flying. Moving to a room without windows can protect you from injury.

If possible, take shelter in a basement or storm cellar. These are typically the safest spaces. If you don't have one, an enclosed room on the lowest floor is best.

Keep doors and windows closed. This helps maintain the structural integrity of your home. Openings can allow wind to enter, increasing pressure and damage.

Stay informed by listening to weather updates. Use a battery-powered radio or mobile device. This ensures you get the latest information without needing to go near windows.

4) Charge all electronic devices

Before a storm hits, ensure that all your electronic devices are fully charged. This includes smartphones, laptops, tablets, and any other essential gadgets. Having these devices charged will keep you connected and informed.

Keep a portable charger or power bank handy. These can be lifesavers if the power goes out for an extended period. Make sure they are fully charged as well.

Make a habit of plugging in your devices at the first sign of an impending storm. It is also wise to invest in a surge protector to safeguard your electronics from potential power surges.

If you have any battery-powered radios or flashlights, check their batteries. Replace them if needed. This ensures you have access to light and emergency broadcasts even if you can't charge your devices.

By keeping your devices charged, you can stay in touch with family, friends, and emergency services. This step is crucial for receiving timely updates and weather alerts.

5) Keep a Battery-Powered Radio

A battery-powered radio is an essential tool during a storm. When power outages occur, your usual sources of information like TVs or mobile devices may not work. A battery-powered radio ensures you have continuous access to critical updates.

Emergency broadcasts provide valuable information on the storm's path and intensity. These updates can inform you about evacuation orders or road closures. This is crucial for making timely decisions.

Keep extra batteries for your radio. Regularly check its functionality to ensure it's ready when needed. Store the radio and batteries in an easily accessible location.

Having a battery-powered radio enhances your ability to stay informed and safe. This small step can make a significant difference during a storm.

6) Identify a Safe Room

A sturdy, windowless room with emergency supplies, a weather radio, and a first aid kit. Clear signage and easy access for all occupants

A safe room is crucial during a storm. Choose an interior room without windows. Basements, bathrooms, or closets are good options.

Ensure the room is large enough for everyone. It should have essential supplies like water, blankets, and a first aid kit.

Reinforce the door if possible. A strong door offers added protection from flying debris. Your safe room should also have a way to communicate, such as a charged cell phone.

7) Have a Family Communication Plan

Ensure everyone knows how to get in touch with each other during a storm.

Agree on a primary method of communication, whether it's phone calls, texts, or social media.

Establish an emergency contact outside your immediate area.

Decide on a central meeting place if you can't reach home.

Create a written plan and share it with all family members.

Practice the plan regularly to make sure everyone remembers the steps.

Include important phone numbers and addresses in an accessible location.

Always keep your phone charged and have backup power sources.

Understanding Storm Warnings

Recognizing various storm warnings and interpreting their severity levels can help you stay safe and make informed decisions during a storm.

Different Types of Warnings

Storm warnings come in various forms, each signaling a different kind of threat. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings indicate imminent or occurring severe weather with conditions like heavy rain, hail, and strong winds. Tornado Warnings mean a tornado has been sighted or detected by weather radar in your area. Flash Flood Warnings are issued when rapid flooding is imminent or occurring due to intense rain.

Other warnings include Hurricane Warnings, which predict hazardous winds and rain for coastal areas, and Blizzard Warnings, alerting you to severe winter weather with heavy snow and strong winds. Knowing these types and recognizing them promptly can save lives and properties.

How to Interpret Warning Levels

Storm warnings often come with varying levels of severity. Watch means conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, so remain alert. Warning signifies that severe weather is happening or about to happen, requiring immediate action.

For tornadoes and hurricanes, the scale can range from EF0 to EF5 for tornadoes or Category 1 to 5 for hurricanes, indicating increasing levels of destruction. Advisories may also be issued for less severe but still hazardous conditions. Understanding these levels aids in taking the appropriate precautions or evacuations necessary to ensure safety.

Preparing Your Home

Taking steps to prepare your home for a storm can significantly reduce potential damage. Focus on securing all entry points and having essential supplies readily available.

Securing Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are vulnerable areas during storms. Use storm shutters or plywood boards to cover windows and glass doors. This prevents shattering from high winds and flying debris.

Ensure all doors are properly locked and secured. Reinforce garage doors with braces to prevent them from caving in. Inspect and repair any damage to door frames to maintain structural integrity.

Seal gaps around windows and doors to prevent water infiltration. Use weather stripping and caulk to seal these areas effectively. Investing in high-impact, storm-resistant windows can also add extra protection.

Emergency Supply Kit Essentials

An emergency supply kit is crucial for weathering a storm. First, gather essential items:

  • Water: One gallon per person per day for at least three days
  • Non-perishable food: At least a three-day supply
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlights and extra batteries

Include a first aid kit with necessary medications and medical supplies. Keep a battery-powered or hand-crank radio for weather updates. Don’t forget essential documents and cash in a waterproof container.

Additional items like blankets, clothing, and personal hygiene products are also important. Customize your kit based on your family’s specific needs, including supplies for pets or infants.