Severe Weather Safety Tips

March 21, 2016

Severe weather can hit at any time. Throughout the year there are various severe weather awareness weeks and days. It may seem unbelievable, but in several areas, spring often has surprise snowstorms, intense thunderstorms, and all around whacky weather. Whether spring, summer, fall, or winter, there is a possibility of severe weather. This severe weather safety guide will provide general severe weather safety tips as well as tips specific to weather like hurricanes, lightning, floods, and winter weather. To stay safe and prepared, there are a few things you can do quickly and easily:

6 General Severe Weather Safety Tips

1. Make a Kit

Having a kit in your home, car, and work will help you be safe if severe weather hits and you can feel a bit more at ease no matter where you are. Here are a few ideas for your kit:

  • Two gallons of water
  • Rain Poncho
  • Food (preferably protein packed and nonperishable)
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • First Aid Kit(s)
  • Rope
  • Work Gloves
  • Space Blanket
  • Flashlight
  • Yoga mat (affordable mattress pad if you need to sleep on the floor)
  • Large hiking backpack (in case you need to leave)
  • Hand-powered radio (so you can stay alert about what is going on around you)

Your kit’s size should depend on your family size and how much space you have. If you live in a small apartment or you want to keep it in your car it should all fit or be attached to a large backpack.

2. Unplug

If you have a blackout you will want to unplug all major appliances so when power returns it will not fry the electronics or create a surge. If you have children be sure to avoid candles if possible. Safety is key in a blackout so having fire hazards may not be the best idea. If possible use rechargeable flashlights and solar or man-powered lighting. Some regions are more susceptible to blackouts. In more rural areas there is a higher chance of losing power and if you live far away from the grid you may not have power return for quite some time. If this is the case you may want to consider investing in a generator so you can still have indoor plumbing and essential electricity. If you purchase a generator be sure to run it outside or in a well-ventilated area. Otherwise, your home could fill with carbon monoxide.

3. Communications

A truly severe storm can knock out communications, making it difficult for you to reach help or to check in on friends and family who may need help. You’ll want to have a cell phone, a portable charger, and extra batteries for that phone; this way you can more easily reach who you need to reach regardless of how much you’ve used your phone lately. You’ll also want to be plugged into however your local area warns about severe weather, whether its television, radio, or the web, and be ready to check on that information.

4. Heat

Heat, obviously, is one of the most important elements of preparing for severe weather in the winter. Stock up on extra blankets, sleeping bags, extra coats, and other winter attire. If you have a fireplace, stock up on wood to heat it with, and get ahold of some space heaters and kerosene heaters (with extra kerosene!) to help cover the gap if your heating fails. A fire extinguisher to help deal with these heat sources if they somehow break or get out of hand is also recommended, along with a carbon monoxide detector to avoid an unfortunate accident.

5. Food and Cooking

Of course, you still need to eat. Have a hot plate for use and a way to power it in case of a power outage; charcoal and gas have the potential to cause a fire and the fumes can be deadly, so don’t use those. Also, have spare drinking water and canned food that doesn’t need to be cooked on-hand, along with a non-electric can opener, and a first aid kit in case you hurt yourself cooking!

6. Entertainment

Have plenty of board games, books, and puzzles on hand to keep you and your family entertained until the power returns. You do not always know when power will return and having a few things to keep children or yourself preoccupied can help you avoid stress and boredom.

3 Hurricane Preparedness Tips

First off, you will want to make a list of what you need or have. This way, you can form a kit for a hurricane or other dangerous weather so you are always prepared. This list has the basics and a few necessary items you may not think of in a crisis:

1. Basic Survival Kit

  1. Two day’s worth of food
  2. Four day’s worth of water
  3. One tank of gas – You can purchase tank sized gas cans at any farming store (Tractor Supply, Cabela’s, etc.)
  4. Portable battery and crank-powered radio
  5. First aid kit and manual
  6. Items for infants (diapers, medicine, bottles, and baby food)
  7. Items for pets (food, water, medicine, leash, etc.)
  8. Space blanket
  9. Tent large enough for your family
  10. Important papers (birth certificates, license, etc.)
  11. Waterproof matches and other fire starters
  12. Your and your family members’ medications

2. Items You May Not Think of:

  1. Plant identification field guide – This way you can eat what is around you without the risk of getting sick.
  2. Bag of Doritos – These make wonderful fire starters and are filling in a pinch.
  3. Extra batteries
  4. Comfortable shoes
  5. Sanitation and hygiene items – These will keep you and your family clean and sanitary pads and other feminine products can be used as bandages.

3. Maintain Your Kit

Once you have made a kit, it is necessary that you maintain it. Be sure to use the food that is about to pass its expiration date (canned goods, bagged items) and replenish the stock shortly after. The best thing to do is replenish your stock the same day you use it, so you will not forget and be left unexpectantly short on supplies. You may also want to label and date each food item. This will help you keep track of what you have and what you need. Be sure to also rethink your needs every year. Shoe sizes change, dietary needs evolve, and family members can grow. By keeping up with the changes in your life, you will always be ready for what may come.

4 Lightning Safety Tips

With summer, comes storms. While some can be beautiful and perfect for singing in the rain, others can be dangerous and must be taken seriously. Here are a few lightning safety tips so you can stay safe during thunderstorms:

1. Stay Away From Windows and Doors

This may seem like common sense but many people are attracted to the window and door because of the theatrics that occur during a storm. You should, however, stay away from windows and doors to avoid flying debris, broken windows, and other hazards. The best place to be during a storm is in the center of your home on the lowest floor. This will help you stay away from possible debris or lightning strikes.

2. Protect Your Pets

Pets can become utterly terrified during storms. This is because they sense the storm before it hits and they are much more sensitive to the noise than most humans. To keep your dog calm stay by their side and have them be wherever they feel safe. This could be on the couch next to you, in their dog bed or in the bathroom.

If they become incredibly anxious during the storm you may want to consider purchasing a storm jacket. The brand Thunderjacket offers jackets for your pooch in different sizes, fabrics, and colors. By putting a weighted jacket on your pup the pressure will put them at ease. Once they are in a comfortable and safe spot with the jacket on then you can offer them some water and just stay with them. You are their greatest source of comfort.

3. Cordless Phones

Stay away from any corded phones in your home. Instead, charge your cell phones before the storm hits and then keep the charged untethered phones at your side. This is safer and can be easier to use in case of emergency (power outage, fire, etc.) You should also have all of your cordless home phones charged as well. Even after a power outage, they will still work for as long as they are charged.

4. Stay Dry

Do not shower or take a bath during a thunder and lightning storm. Water is electrically charged and electricity can travel through it. If your home or exposed plumbing is hit by lightning the charge can travel through the home and into the tub. This may not necessarily kill you but it can do a lot of bodily harm and cost you days, weeks, or even months in the hospital. The best thing to do during a storm is to hunker down with a candle, a good book, and maybe a glass of wine.

3 Important Flood Safety Tips

Flood Safety Awareness Week is in April. In honor of it, here are some important flood safety tips:

1. From Flood Watch to Evacuation Notice

Knowing the difference between hunkering down and getting out of your home and to a safer place can save you a lot of precious time during a disaster. If your news channel has issued a flood watch that means flooding is possible in your area but has not occurred. This is different from a flood warning or flash flood watch that means flooding has occurred in your area and may occur suddenly.

You should move to higher ground within your home or community and be prepared to gather valuables. A flash flood warning alerts that a flash flood will be occurring in your area and you must seek higher ground immediately. Finally, an evacuation notice is telling you it is time to evacuate your home or community to seek higher ground. Take only the necessities.

2. What to Pack in a Kit:

  1. A 3-day supply of water: at least one gallon per person per day
  2. A 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  3. Flashlight
  4. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  5. Extra batteries
  6. First Aid kit
  7. A 7-day supply of medications 
  8. Multi-purpose tool
  9. Copies of personal documents
  10. Cellphone with charger
  11. Cash
  12. Camera to display flood damage
  13. Baby and Pet Supplies
  14. Wood, nails, power tools (to secure your home)
  15. Sandbags for home protection

3. Have a Plan

Always have a plan and let everyone in your household know the plan. You can post a floor plan in your kitchen or living room and route several escape plans from each room in your home. Be sure to also give everyone a job during a disaster. This way everything will get done but you will not have to focus on every aspect of it. And you will be able to share the load so everyone will be accountable. You will also want to have a meeting place for your family that is outside of the household. This way everyone will be accounted for and if anyone is missing everyone can look for him or her and meet again at the meeting place.

10 Winter Weather Preparedness Tips

Before winter weather sets in, it’s good to take some time to prepare for it. Here are 10 winter weather preparedness tips to help you get through the winter:

1. Have Plenty of Light

Make sure you have plenty of alternative lighting options in case your home loses power. Be sure to have plenty of candles, lanterns, and flashlights. And for every lighting option, be sure to have plenty of batteries!

2. Stock up on Food and Water

You should always have a week’s worth of food and three week’s worth of water stockpiled in your home in case you lose power. This will give you the peace of mind if the power goes out and will give you time to figure out the next step.

3. Stay Warm

During the winter you will need plenty of warm clothing, bedding, and you will want a heating element to keep your home safe and warm. Make sure you have thermal clothing as well as waterproof clothing and warm outerwear. You should also have plenty of warm blankets and bedding to stay warm with or without power. With that try to find a heating element that does not need electricity. This way your home can stay warm no matter what.

4. Have a Good Shovel

This will be the thing you are least likely to think about but may be the most important thing you will need if you need to leave your home. Before snow falls you should make sure you have a sturdy, long-lasting shovel that can pull its own weight.

5. Install Draft Stoppers

Draft stoppers under your doors can keep warm air in and cold out. They are inexpensive, simple and can help cut down on your heating and electricity bills. You can make your own with cotton, fabric, and some sewing skills or purchase them online.

6. Protect Your Outdoor Faucets

You can install outdoor faucet covers so they will not freeze in the winter. This will also keep your plumbing safe and warm from freezing. Faucet covers can be found at any home goods store or online.

7. Change Heat Pump Filters

Many people do not consider the need to change your heat pump’s filter but it will make your home safer and may make your heating less expensive. Like the faucet covers, new filters are fairly inexpensive and can be bought at any hardware store or online.

8. Dust

It may seem silly but dusting will keep your home clean and cozy. This will cut down on dirt and grime building up and harming you and your family. The act will also help fight cabin fever.

9. Insulate Your Home

Make sure all of your insulation is clean, devoid of mold, and is properly placed throughout the home. This way your home will stay safe and dry.

10. Clear Roof and Gutters

Clean your roof and gutters so they do not have snow and ice build up over time. Then, you will not have to worry about your roof falling into your home or your gutters breaking.

Severe weather can hit anytime. With these tips, you can be prepared and keep your family safe.

Infographic provided by Canter Power Systems, learn more about generator installation Houston