In Indiana, the National Weather Service has designated this week (March 15-21) as Severe Weather Preparedness Week. For the dates of the 16-20, we also recognize Flood Safety Week.
Being in an industry that often deals with property damage as a result of severe weather and flooding, we wanted to take a moment to write about the topic and share some ways that you can prepare for severe weather. And while severe weather can occur any day of the year, we often see a spike in thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding in the Spring.
Lightning is unpredictable and dangerous.
While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, it is still one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States.
Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors.
- At the first sign of lightning or thunder, seek shelter.
- Do not resume outdoor activities for at least 30 minutes after last observed lightning or thunder.
- Avoid the following areas: water, high ground, large open areas, isolated trees, and all metal objects or electrical wires.
If Someone is Struck by Lightning
- Have someone dial 9-1-1 immediately.
- People struck by lightning carry NO electrical charge and can be safely attended to immediately.
- Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries.
- Stay with the victim until medical professionals arrive.
Thunderstorms are very prevalent during the summer months in Indiana. They can produce large hail, flash floods, heavy rain, lightning, strong winds, and tornadoes. Thunderstorms can last only a few minutes, but have the strength and power to cause a great amount of damage.
During a Thunderstorm
- If a thunderstorm is coming postpone or cancel outdoor activity.
- Do NOT go near tall trees or any other tall objects.
- Seek shelter inside a building or in a hardtop vehicle, but don’t touch any of the metal inside.
- Do NOT use the telephone. Stay away from other electronic devices, bare metal, and water.
- Do NOT go near downed power lines.
- Keep your eye on the sky and listen to weather reports on the radio or TV.
- If caught out in the middle of a large body of water, return to shore as soon as possible. Get off the water immediately.
- When caught in the middle of an open field: If walking with others stay a minimum of 10 feet apart, keep low and move quickly to seek shelter. If there is no shelter lay in a ditch or get to the lowest place around.
Tornadoes are violent rotating cylinders of air that can reach speeds in excess of 300 mph, be more than a mile wide, and cover up to around 50 miles during their short path of destruction. Tornadoes can cause millions of dollars worth of damage and rip buildings off their foundations leaving only debris in their wake. They can appear suddenly and with little warning.
Tornado Watch: Conditions are right to have a tornado. Maintain a close look out for changes in the sky and stay tuned to local weather stations.
Tornado Warning: This means there is an actual tornado reported or radar indicates one could develop within a few minutes. Seek shelter quickly.
During a Tornado:
- Basements, inner rooms of a house, and storm sellars provide the best protection.
- Stay away from exterior walls, windows, and doors. Stay in the center of the room.
- If you are in your car do NOT try and outrun the tornado because it can switch direction and can cover lots of ground quickly.
- Get out of vehicle and go into a strong building if possible. If not, lie flat in a ditch or low area and cover your head.
- Do NOT go under overpasses, wind speeds actually increase under them and can suck you out!
- If you live in a mobile home, get out IMMEDIATELY. Take shelter in a building with a strong foundation.
- Listen to radio or watch TV so you can be alerted about your current situation.
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Floods can develop over the course of a few weeks or happen at a moments notice. If you are curious if you live in a flood plain click here to go to check FEMA’s maps.
Flood Watches: Conditions to have a flood in your area are favorable.
Flood Warnings: A flood is occurring or is very likely to occur very soon.
During a Flood
- Get to higher ground.
- Evacuate your house if flooding is possible.
- Know your town and make sure you know alternate escape routes in case one is blocked.
- Take pets with you if you evacuate. However, many shelters usually do NOT allow pets inside due to sanitary conditions so plan accordingly.
- Do NOT try and drive through water. As little as 2 feet can cause most cars to float, and as little as a few inches of moving water can wash most cars away with the current.
- Do NOT try to cross moving water on foot. As little as a few inches can knock you off your feet.
- Watch TV or listen to the radio to find out what actions to take next.
Preparing for A Flood
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. In the past several years, about 60 percent of all declared disasters involved flooding.
- Develop a family emergency plan and put together a disaster preparedness kit
- Safeguard your possessions
- Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:
- A copy of your insurance policies with your agent’s contact information
- A household inventory that includes written and visual documentation of all household items and valuables.
- Copies of all other important documents
- Prepare your house
- If you have a sump pump, make sure it is working and has a battery operated backup system.
- Clean debris from gutters and downspouts
- Raise electrical components at least 12 inches from your home’s projected flood elevation
People often think, “It will never happen to me.” And hopefully you are right. But the fact of the matter is that tornadoes, lightning, and floods are not too uncommon in Indiana, especially during this time of year. And as you know with Indiana weather – you should always expect the unexpected.
According to the NWS, Indiana averages 21 tornadoes per year. But in 2012 alone, we had 72.
The point is – it’s better safe than sorry. Have a plan for every type of severe weather incident. Make sure your family is safe, your property is protected and – hopefully you won’t have to call us – but if there’s a need for any property damage restoration, you know where to find us!