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Preparing for Thunderstorms and Lightning

If you live in an area where they’re common, you need to take thunderstorms into consideration as part of your emergency preparedness plans. Several dozen people are injured by lightning strikes every year in the U.S., and more than 300 are killed. Take the time to prepare your home for thunderstorms and their related weather events, and learn how to react when one is approaching.

Preparing Your Home

Getting your house thunderstorm-proof starts with some work outside. If you have trees near your house, make sure to prune dead or rotting limbs off them. These can damage your home or car during the heavy winds that sometimes accompany a thunderstorm.

Anything that could potentially be blown around in a storm, such as trash cans or other items, should be tied down.

When a storm approaches, close your windows and doors. Pull the blinds shut, in case debris breaks a window and sends broken glass flying into the house. If you have storm shutters, pull those shut as well.

Stock Your Home

Make sure you have an emergency supply kit, and maintain or refill it on a regular basis if you use it. You’ll want to have medical supplies and bandages, as well as food, water and other essentials. Thunderstorms often knock trees over, which in turn knock out power lines. You could be without power for several days after a thunderstorm, depending on the amount of damage it does. Take the time to prepare for this, by stocking supplies in advance.

The 30/30 Rule

The “30/30 Rule” is a common term to remember for a thunderstorm. Here’s how it works: Once you see lightning strike, count to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach the number 30, get indoors or to another safe location. Once the storm has passed, don’t go outside until it’s been 30 minutes since the last time you heard thunder.

Listen to Weather Reports

Most people who are hit by lightning get caught outdoors during the summertime. Some of the most common incidents happen when people are hiking or on the golf course.

If you hear a weather report that mentions a “thunderstorm watch,” that means a thunderstorm could potentially happen in your area. If it mentions a “thunderstorm warning,” that means a storm is actually happening or will happen soon. Adjust your plans if you’re going to be working or recreating outside at that time.

Other Threats

Aside from lightning, thunderstorms can cause a number of catastrophic or emergency situations. It’s not uncommon for tornadoes to form in conjunction with a thunderstorm. Strong winds and hail are another danger to watch out for. Lightning strikes can cause wildfires, especially during the dry summer months when they’re more likely to happen. If flash flooding occurs during a thunderstorm, it can lead to mudslides or other hazards.

Those are a few tips on how to prepare for thunderstorms and lightning. Stock up on supplies and emergency items that will help you get by during an extended power outage. Pay attention to weather reports to know if a potential thunderstorm is on the way, and make the necessary preparations before a storm happens in your area.