We have all heard the phrase, “the calm before the storm.” A summer storm can come on quickly and disappear just as quickly. Central Texas is no stranger to weather with multiple personalities. From severe thunderstorms and flash flooding to tornados and hail the size of golf balls, we’ve seen it all. Since our summer storm season hasn’t quite yet begun this year, now is a good time to go over some safety tips.
For any type of storm, it is important to be prepared. Have a storm action plan. Designate a safe place in your home, have an emergency kit stored in your safe place and set rules on what to do before, during and after a severe storms hits. Make sure your entire family knows the plan. This is extremely important if you have kids who are home by themselves at any point during the day.
Fortunately, with our unpredictable weather, we have great warning systems. Sign up for weather alerts on your phone so you know when bad weather is approaching. Most of our local news stations have a sign-up through their website. You may also want to invest in a weather radio. If there is an electricity outage, weather radios can keep you informed of what’s happening around you.
DURING THE STORM
Thunderstorm & Lightning – You do not have to be directly under a thunderstorm to be in danger of lightning. If you hear thunder, you’re in danger. Go inside and stay away from windows. Never swim, take a bath/shower or do dishes during a thunderstorm. Water energizes electricity. Use the 30/30 rule; if there is less than 30 seconds between a flash of lightning and the sound of thunder, stay indoors. Wait at least 30 minutes from the last sound of thunder before going back outside.
High Winds – High winds are common here in Hill Country. Make sure outside objects, like patio furniture, are secured. Keep trees trimmed as wind causes branches to break. When the winds get strong, stay indoors and away from windows and doors. Keep blinds and drapes closed to avoid glass, should debris hit and break your window. Watch out for power lines as strong winds are notorious for downed lines and subsequent power outages.
Flash Floods – Flash floods are named appropriately, they happen in a moment. Be aware of bodies of water like rivers, creeks and pools. When rain hits, never try to cross flooded areas. Most flood related injuries and deaths are caused by people trying to drive through submerged roads. Seek higher ground if you’re in a flood zone.
Hailstorm – Hail can cause severe damage. Take cover immediately. Get indoors as quickly as you can. Stay away from windows. Large hail can lead to bruising, welts and even concussions.
Tornadoes – Even though we’re not technically in ‘tornado alley,’ we still have weather that can lead to tornado activity. If a tornado warning is issued, take action NOW! Seek shelter immediately in basements or interior rooms on lower levels. Never go out and try to capture the tornado with your phone. Being the next YouTube star is not worth risking your life.
Chances are you will encounter a storm while you’re driving. The most important thing to do when a storm hits while you’re on the road is to get off the road. Seek indoor shelter if you can. If you’re not able to get out of your vehicle, find a freeway overpass or gas station awning for some protection. Turn on your hazard lights, keep your seat belt secured and keep your head below the windows. Keep a blanket in your car to cover up with. If you have children in the car, move them to the center of the car and hold them under you. Seek shelter when it’s safe to do so.
We hope these tips will keep you and your family safe this storm season. If you or a loved one gets injured during a storm, wait until it’s safe, then seek immediate medical care. All Family Emergency Room locations are open 24/7/365, even during the storm.