Thunderstorm Preparation Tips

More than anything else, preparing for severe weather requires common sense. The principal concerns presented by thunderstorms are lightning, high winds and power outages.

Prior to the storm, unplug any appliances or other electronic equipment that you will not be using during the storm. If lightning strikes your house or even just near it, you may experience a power surge that can seriously damage anything that is plugged into an outlet. Even if you have a surge protector for your computer you should not rely on it. Play it safe and unplug the computer. Unplug window air conditioners to avoid potential damage to the units. If you have central air, shut it off. If it were to get struck by lightning, it could send fatal amounts of electricity through your home. Additional information can be found here and here. If you have enough advance notice, you may want to cool your home more than usual to last you through the storm, then turn your cooling units off.

Lightning could also cause your home to catch fire. Make sure that you have a working fire extinguisher on hand and that your family knows how to use it. Charge your cell phone before the storm so it will be available to call 911 in case of an emergency. If you have a smart phone, you will also be able to use it to track the storm online if you lose power. Family members, including pets, should try to stay near each other during the storm in case it becomes necessary to evacuate.

Thunderstorms often bring with them extremely high winds that can down trees and cause other types of damage. Lawn chairs, hanging bird feeders, market umbrellas and other items might become airborne and damage your home. You need to move these objects indoors, or place them on the ground next to your home away from any windows.

It will be important to stay away from windows during the storm. High winds, airborne objects and falling trees or branches can break glass. Select in advance an appropriate area of your home in which to ride out the storm with your family. Make sure every family member puts on shoes before the storm arrives. You may need to move to an area of the home that has windows and there may be broken glass.

Severe storms sometimes spawn tornados. If the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, you need to have an appropriate area of your house to go to. Basements generally offer the best protection, unless flooding is an issue. Other good choices are an interior room, hallway or closet on the lowest floor of your home. You should keep bottled water, nonperishable food, a flashlight and a first aid kit in the area you select. More information is available online at (search “tornado tips) and

Thunderstorms frequently cause power outages. Make sure you have a flashlight available for every member of the family. You should also have candles or a battery-operated source of light ready. Keep on hand at least a day’s supply of food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or cooked. Depending upon your source of water, you may find yourself without this necessity if you lose power. Those of you with wells will definitely be without water. Just make sure you have plenty of bottled water available. Fill your bathtubs with water and place buckets next to them. You can use the bath water to wash hands and flush toilets while the power is out.

Gas up your car before the storm arrives in case you need to evacuate. If you have young children or pets, you might want to have distractions available in case they get scared. Special toys or treats that are only made available during a storm can turn a negative into a positive. Think of a favorite book to read, or favorite songs to sing. Good tips are available here and here (search “pets and storms”). Depending upon the ages and personalities of your kids, it might be a good thing to tell them before the storm arrives that it is going to be their job to be brave and comfort the pets. This might empower them and mitigate any anxiety or fear.

Coping with thunderstorms is easy if you know your house and family well, and think things out in advance.