Disaster Preparedness: Thunderstorm Safety

Photo of lightning bolts

After the “Polar Vortex” this winter and recent mass flooding, many Michiganders have a new appreciation for disaster preparedness. Michigan’s most common potential disaster situations include thunderstorms, power outages, tornadoes and extreme winter temperatures. This special series will offer a few suggestions on how to make sure you and your family are ready.

A thunderstorm can be beautiful to watch from afar, but it can certainly create devastating aftermath. A severe thunderstorm, which is defined by the American Red Cross as producing hail of at least 1 inch in diameter or wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour, can cause flooding, high winds, power outages and lightning injuries. As of Sept. 7, 2014, there have been 23 lightning-related deaths in the United States this year alone.

Here are some things to remember to stay safe in a thunderstorm:

  • If you’re swimming, get out of the water. Do not return until at least 30 minutes have passed since the last thunder rumble.
  • If outdoors, avoid trees and metal objects such as tractors and golf clubs.
  • Seek indoor shelter as soon as you are notified of the presence of a thunderstorm. Avoid sitting by doors and windows.
  • Do not touch items that are plugged into electrical outlets. Also, do not use any indoor plumbing items that can conduct electricity until the storm has passed.
  • If flooding has occurred, do not swim or play in it! Flood water can contain sewage as well as hidden dangers that could cut or injure you.
  • If you don’t already have flood coverage, check out the National Flood Insurance Program website for tips and advice to get your home covered.
  • Driving through flooded streets is extremely dangerous. It only takes 6 inches of water to completely lose control of the vehicle. Driving through large bodies of water could also cause vehicle damage, creating dangerous situations in the future.
  • If you notice a downed power line, call 911 immediately to report it. Stay away and prevent others from getting near the line or anything near or touching it.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers resources on its website, including emergency supply checklists. There are also games that make the lesson fun and not scary for children.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System



1 Response to “Disaster Preparedness: Thunderstorm Safety”

  1. 1 Anonymous September 15, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Nice reminders. Thanks for the great resources, Erica.

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