In many parts of the country, we are currently living through the “spring showers” that will eventually lead to “May flowers.” Thunderstorms are more than an inconvenience to our outdoor plans – they can actually present serious safety risks for you and your family.
There are approximately 100,000 thunderstorms in the United States each year that cause, on average, 200 deaths and 700 injuries. Up to 10% of storms each year will be severe enough to produce high winds, flash floods and even tornadoes that significantly increase the risk of personal injury or property damage. Here are some recommendations to help keep you and your loved ones safe during storm season.
BEFORE THE STORM
- Watch for signs of approaching storms - darkening skies, changing winds, etc.
- Know the county or parish in which you live and the names of the nearby major cities. Severe weather warnings are issued on a county or parish basis.
- Check the weather forecast before leaving for extend outdoor periods.
- If a storm is approaching, keep a radio with you to stay abreast of the latest weather warnings.
- Postpone outdoor activities and stay indoors if thunderstorms are imminent. This is simply the best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.
- Check on those who may have trouble finding shelter if severe weather threatens and ensure they're protected.
DURING A THUNDERSTORM
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to a storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately. Thunder can typically be heard from 3-4 miles away from the storm center.
- Move into a sturdy building or hardtop automobile. Do not take shelter in small sheds or under isolated trees.
- Get out of boats and away from water.
- Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances not necessary to obtain weather information. Avoid using telephones or any other electrical appliance in severe storms, unless there’s an emergency.
- Do not take a bath or shower.
- Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressors.
- Get to higher ground if flash floods are possible. Once flooding begins, abandon cars and climb to higher ground. Do not attempt to drive to safety. Most flash flood deaths actually occur when people attempt to drive and their automobiles get swept away in the surges.