Homeowner's and Renter's Thunderstorm Safety Guide
Thunderstorms are a dangerous weather condition characterized by rain showers with lightning and thunder. Although they only last around thirty minutes, this kind of storm can easily cause damage to your home as well as any other property.
Because of this, proper safety measures should be observed before, during, and even after the passing of thunderstorms to ensure the well-being of both your loved ones and residence.
- American National Red Cross: Thunderstorm safety
- Federal Alliance for Safe Homes: Thunderstorms: Safe rooms
- Habitat for Humanity: Thunderstorms: Habitat ready: Disaster preparedness for homeowners
- National Association of Home Builders: Protect your home from severe weather
According to Texas Tech University, around 100,000 thunderstorms occur in the United States every year. In comparison, there are only an estimated 1,000 tornadoes recorded in the same span of time.
Although occurring more frequently, thunderstorms caused around the same number of injuries and deaths in a year as the rarer tornadoes did.
- National Severe Storms Laboratory: Severe weather 101: Thunderstorm basics
- Texas Tech University: Annual disaster/death Statistics for US storms
Preparing for Thunderstorms
Typically causing flash floods and electric line damages, thunderstorms still pose a significant threat to people’s safety. Here are some of the most suggested safety precautions homeowners are advised to observe to prepare for a coming thunderstorm:
- Prepare an emergency kit filled with medical and food supplies.
- Make sure to have a communication plan with your family members in case of worst-case scenarios.
- Remove possible hazards like dead trees around the home’s area to prevent possible damages due to falling.
- Turn off and unplug all electric appliances.
- Garrett County Government: Preparing for a thunderstorm
- Florida International University: Preparing for a thunderstorm
What to Do During Thunderstorms
The best thing you can do while waiting for a thunderstorm to pass is to stay inside the safety of your own home. Aside from this, you can also follow these extra tips for good measure:
- Refrain from using headphones and appliances during the storm. Make sure to stay away from electric outlets.
- Bunker up in a basement as it is typically the safest part of a house, but avoid going near concrete walls with metal bars.
- Avoid using anything that’s connected to your home’s water piping (bathrooms and sinks included).
- S. Department of Health & Human Services: When thunder roars, go indoors!
- Safe Electricity: Safety indoors during a thunderstorm
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: During a lightning storm
Post Thunderstorm Recovery
After the thunderstorm finally subsides, remember the 30/30 rule. According to this principle, people should refrain from heading out of the house if you hear thunder thirty counts after seeing lightning. Wait another thirty minutes after hearing the last thunder before heading out.
If you find that your home has been damaged, immediately contact your insurance provider to see whether the damages are covered in your plan. Do not forget to take photos of the damage before you start cleaning or clearing out debris.
- Edison Electric Institute: Before and after the storm
- Maricopa County Arizona: Storm preparation & recovery tips
General Thunderstorm Safety Tips
Aside from the ones already mentioned above, here are some things to remember:
- Watch vs. warning: When a watch is given out, it means that weather conditions are favorable for severe weather. A warning is issued when the severe weather condition is already happening.
- Hardtop vehicle: Should you get caught in a thunderstorm while heading home, staying inside a vehicle with a hard top is advised for safety.
- Windows and doors: Make sure that all windows and doors are securely shut prior to the thunderstorm.
- San Patricio Electric Cooperative: 10 safety tips for storm season
- Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative: Keeping you safe: Thunderstorm safety
- University of Michigan Health System: Thunderstorms in the forecast: Keep these lightning safety tips in mind
Thunderstorm Safety for Children
If your kids find thunderstorms particularly scary, your main concern should be to keep them calm. The first thing you can do is not to let your fears show through as this might only increase your children’s anxiety. You can ease kids’ fears by trying to explain what is happening outside and how being inside your home will keep them safe.
- Kids Health: Thunderstorms
- Children’s Hospital Colorado: Lightning safety tips for outdoor sports
- A Healthier Michigan: Keeping kids calm during storms
Thunderstorm Safety for Seniors
If you have members of the family who are also seniors, the same tips and precautions discussed above still apply. But since they are more physically vulnerable in disaster situations, extra safety measures should be observed.
- Make sure that an exit is available that is accessible to them.
- Keeps paths and doorways clear.
- Have a backup power supply for any medically necessary equipment.
Those living in assisted living homes can find more specific emergency situation tips in the links below.
- Town of Egremont, Massachusetts: Disaster preparedness for seniors by seniors
- University of Florida Health: Disaster preparedness guide for elders
- University of Arkansas: Emergency preparedness among older adults
Thunderstorm Safety for People with Disabilities and Special Needs
The same precautions are also applicable for families with special needs members. Have a list of all emergency numbers you may need in case your home is compromised or damaged to the point where your family becomes endangered.
- National Weather Service: Weather safety materials for individuals with intellectual disabilities
- Nevada Division of Emergency Management: People with disabilities
- Volunteer Florida: Disaster guide for Floridians with disabilities
Thunderstorm Safety for Pets
Like children, pets can also feel anxious before and during thunderstorms. If your cat or dog’s anxiety tends to get really bad, you can ask your vet to prescribe some anxiety medicine to help them calm down and cope. Meanwhile, if you’re planning to keep your pet in a confined area during a thunderstorm, make sure that their temporary shelter is free from possibly dangerous objects.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: 5 pet safety tips for storm preparedness
- Animal Humane Society: Thunderstorm and noise phobia
- The Humane Society of the United States: Make a disaster plan for your pets
Thunderstorm Safety When Driving
Should you get caught in the middle of a thunderstorm while on the road, you can use your car as a form of shelter while waiting for the storm to pass. However, you should still try to get inside a building or other more stable structure, if possible, to protect yourself from lightning.
Avoid going near or trying to drive over flooded roads and bodies of water. Even a mere two feet of flood water can be be powerful enough to carry away most cars.