Severe storms are common in Texas. In order to keep you and your family safe, take time to prepare before a storm hits. We recommend the following safety tips:
- Stay away from downed power lines. If you see a downed line, leave the area immediately and call 911.
- Remain in your vehicle until help arrives if you’re involved in an accident and a power line falls on your car. Your tires ground the car, providing protection from an electrical charge.
- Keep an emergency kit handy, including a flashlight, extra batteries and a battery-powered radio in case the power goes out.
- Charge any mobile devices, laptops or tablets if a storm is approaching and have them on standby.
- Stay indoors or seek shelter during a storm. Lightning is one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States, according to the National Weather Service.
- Do not touch an object in contact with power lines. Objects, including tree limbs, can conduct electricity.
- Watch the weather and know when bad weather is on its way, so you can avoid driving if possible. Accidents are more likely to happen during stormy weather.
- Install surge protectors or unplug your electronics and expensive appliances as a storm arrives to protect your equipment from damage due to power surges.
- Keep refrigerators and freezer doors shut in case your power goes out. Food will stay cold six to nine hours in a refrigerator without spoiling and frozen foods will stay good for about 24 hours.
- Take special precaution when using a portable generator. Make sure the main circuit breaker in the electric service panel box is in the OFF position. In older electric service panel boxes, remove the main fuse block. This will keep power from going back into street power lines and possibly endangering line crews and other emergency workers.
Look Out for Lightning
According to the National Weather Service, lightning killed fewer Americans in 2011 than any year on record thanks to increased consumer education and awareness. This is good news, but it still doesn’t eliminate the need to take precautions when a storm approaches.
- Keep your ears open. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.
- Find shelter immediately and keep windows closed.
- If caught in the woods, take shelter under shorter trees.
- If boating or swimming, get to land and take cover immediately.
- If there is no shelter, find an open place away from trees, poles and metal objects and squat low to the ground.
- Unplug any appliances that are not plugged into surge protectors. Power surges can damage equipment.
- Be aware of metal pipes and downed lines as they can conduct electricity.
Log on to weather.gov or redcross.org for more information.