Consider the devastation caused by thunderstorm’s two most potent associates:
- Lightning kills about 80 people a year and injures another 500 – a death toll higher than that of tornadoes and hurricanes combined.
- As for hail, which can occur in any strong thunderstorm, the chunks of falling ice can reach 120 mph and range in size from a pea to a grapefruit.
Protecting yourself, your family, and your home and belongings from these airborne invaders takes knowledge and preparation.
BEFORE THE STORM – TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY
To help lessen some of the potential damage from a lightning strike:
- Remove dead or overhanging tree branches that could fall on your house if the tree is struck by lightning.
- Put your entire house on a surge-protection system.
- Unplug appliances and electronic equipment.
A major concern during a hailstorm is damage to your home’s roof.
- No roofing material is hail-proof, so look for hail-resistant shingles that carry a Class 4 UL rating.
- Learn what type style of roof is appropriate for homes in your area.
- Most roofing jobs are not for DIYers. Unless you’re experienced, hire a professional roofing contractor.
Hail can cause extensive damage to another of your major investments ‚Äì your vehicle. Here are some tips:
- If a severe thunderstorm is predicted, park your car where it will be protected, such as in a parking garage.
- Driving when a hailstorm begins? Head for an overpass, garage or carport ‚Äì something with a strong roof. If none are available, pull to the side of road, cover your face with clothing to protect it from possible broken glass – and wait. Most hailstorms last only 5 minutes.
DURING THE STORM – HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Know the 30/30 lightning protection rule: When you see a lightning flash, start counting. If you don’t make it to 30 before hearing the thunder, go indoors. Then, stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last boom of thunder.
If you’re inside when a thunderstorm hits:
- Avoid using corded phones and electrical equipment, such as computers or televisions. Electrical wires can be a conduit for lightning.
- Don’t use your cell phone during a thunderstorm.
- Don’t wash your hands, take a shower, wash dishes or do laundry. Metal pipes for plumbing can conduct lightning.
- High winds and hail can shatter glass, so stay away from windows, skylights and doors.
- Keep drapes and blinds closed to prevent hail-shattered glass from blowing inside.
If you’re outdoors:
- Take shelter when you see dark clouds or lightning, hear thunder or feel hail.
- Head for an enclosed building, rather than a carport or open garage.
- No enclosed structure? Get inside a hardtop, all-metal car, truck or SUV. Avoid leaning against vehicles.
- Get off bicycles and motorcycles.
- If no shelter from lightening is available, squat down and put your hands on your knees with your head in between to make yourself a smaller target.
- If you’re in the water, head for shore immediately and avoid metal objects. Water and metal can carry an electrical current.
- If you’re in a group of people, spread out.
- Take care of your pets by bringing inside the house or garage. Doghouses aren’t lightning- or hail-proof.
Gunn-Mowery offers this information to help you make decisions that may help you mitigate your risk. Of course, we can’t address every possible risk or guarantee these tips will work for you. However, we hope that you will consider which of these may help you in your efforts to protect your family and yourself.