Severe Thunderstorms Cause The Most Damage: Here’s What You Can Do To Stay Safe
Severe thunderstorms cause imminent danger to life and property and result in a number of catastrophic losses for families throughout the United States each year. In fact, the latest findings from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) reveal that in 2013 alone, thunderstorms accounted for more than $16 billion in damage and resulting in 110 fatalities.
Considering that overall estimated losses were just north of $21 billion, and it’s safe to say that this is the major natural hazard that Americans are faced with annually. With fluctuating weather patterns throughout much of the country, we’re about to see the busy time of year for these types of incidents. Here’s what you can do to stay safe:
Analyze the sky: Dark clouds, lightning flashes, and increasing gusts of wind, are all signs that trouble is on the way. If you hear thunder, look out because the lightning may be close enough to strike you.
Check the weather reports: Staying glued to your weather radio, or to weather reports on your wireless smartphone, are both good ways to prepare for the oncoming storm. They also give you peace of mind by informing you about the storm’s expected lifespan.
Avoid using most electrical equipment and appliances: Electrical lines are one of the best conductors, and plugged-in equipment — even when not in use — can run the risk of getting struck by lightning, and thus becoming a fire hazard in your home. If you must use electricity, make sure it’s battery-operated.
No showers: This is one that many people take for granted. Along with electrical lines, water, and the metal pipes that carry it, are perhaps the best conductors of electricity. If you’re standing in a shower or resting in a bathtub while the storm rages on outside, your life is in danger.
Close blinds, shutters, and/or shades: While these fixtures in your home may not save your life from a tornado, they can certainly help to reduce the disbursement of glass should a window become damaged as a result of severe thunderstorms.
Secure outdoor objects: Make sure anything outside is secured to the best of your abilities, particularly furniture. Wind gusts may carry lawn furniture or other objects, and depending on the storm, they could be a hazard to your home, causing serious damage.
Bad weather doesn’t always hit at the most opportune times. If you find yourself traveling during a severe thunderstorm, take these steps to ensuring your safety:
Pull over: Don’t try to negotiate the roadways if the winds and rain are impairing vision. If you have to pull over, make sure that you do so away from a tree, or your car could become damaged by falling limbs as the storm intensifies.
Get in a safe position: Use emergency flashers and make sure you’re pulled a safe distance from the traffic that is still trying to risk it. Be visible and smart and as far removed from the action as possible.
Do not get out of the car, unless…: When lightning, wind, rain, and hail are whipping around outside, it’s best to stay in your car, where you’re grounded and protected from the elements. Only in cases of flash flooding should you get out of the car and take your chances. Whatever you do, act early, as soon as you notice that flash flooding is occurring. Once out of the car, get to higher ground and stay off roads that are flooded.
In The Aftermath…
Don’t come out of your house or car until the danger has passed. Once it has, survey the interior and exterior of your car or vehicle for damage. While flooding damage generally requires flood insurance, most of the effects of storm damage will be covered as part of your home or comprehensive auto insurance policies. Put your safety and your life first, and your insurer will work with you to take care of the rest.