Stay Safe: Essential Thunderstorm Tips for Protection

clouds and thunder lightnings and storm

We’ve condensed essential thunderstorm safety tips to maximize your protection.

Thunderstorms, often underestimated, can be more deadly than tornadoes or hurricanes.

Knowing how to prepare, recognize warnings, and stay safe can make all the difference during these storms.

1. Storm Preparation

Cleaning a roof gutter with hands, removing dry leaves out of a clogged rain gutter.  Roof gutter cleaning and maintenance.

Storm preparation involves taking preventative measures to secure your home and property in anticipation of severe weather.

This includes securing outdoor items, trimming trees near your home, cleaning drains and gutters, and understanding if your home is prone to flooding.

Having a well-executed storm preparation plan can significantly reduce the risk of injury and property damage.

To prepare for a storm, start by making a list of outdoor items that need to be secured or stored to prevent them from becoming airborne during high winds.

This includes items like patio furniture, grills, and propane tanks. Trim or remove trees that could fall on your home during a storm.

Keep drains, gutters, and downspouts clean to prevent water buildup and potential flooding.

If your home is prone to flooding, consider installing a sump pump with a battery backup or elevating appliances like your heating system, water heater, and electrical panel.

You should also review your home insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage for flood damage.

2. Emergency Kit Essentials

Preparation for natural disasters concept

An emergency kit is essential for storm safety.

It should include several clean containers for water, enough for a 3-5 day supply (approximately five gallons per person), a 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food and a non-electric can opener, a first aid kit and manual, prescription medicines and special medical needs, and a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.

Having an emergency kit is crucial because it ensures you have the necessary supplies to meet your basic needs during and after a storm when you may not have access to stores or services.

This includes access to clean drinking water, food, and medications, as well as tools for staying informed about the storm’s progress and communicating with others if needed (“Home Safety”).

3. Home Safety During Storms

the master of the house is blocking the windows before a natural disaster

Securing your home during a storm involves more than just closing windows and doors. Consider using shutters or plywood to protect windows against flying debris.

Secure any objects that cannot be brought indoors, such as gas grills or propane tanks.

Check all window and door seals for gaps where wind or water may enter.

Avoid using heating appliances like ovens, stoves, or clothes driers during the heat of the day to minimize the risk of fire.

If a wildfire is nearing, evacuate immediately as embers may fall several miles away from the main fire.

The importance of home safety during storms cannot be overstated.

Properly securing your home can prevent significant damage and ensure that your home remains a safe shelter during the storm.

Moreover, taking these precautions can prevent injuries from flying debris or falling objects, reduce the risk of fire, and help keep you and your loved ones safe during a storm.

4. Storm Warning Signs

Storm warning sign over stormy sky

Staying alert to storm warning signs is crucial for safety during thunderstorms.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms; you should remain alert and tuned into local weather reports.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning indicates a severe thunderstorm has been detected; if this warning includes your area, you should take immediate action to protect yourself and others.

Remember, severe thunderstorms can produce large hail, damaging winds, and even tornadoes.

Paying attention to storm warnings is a critical element of thunderstorm safety.

These warnings provide crucial information about the severity and timing of approaching storms, allowing individuals to take necessary precautions and find safe shelter.

Ignoring these warnings can result in serious injury or loss of life and property.

5. Emergency Communication Plan

An emergency communication plan outlines how you and your family will communicate during a storm, especially if you’re not together when the storm hits.

This plan should include contact information for each family member, as well as for an out-of-state contact who can help coordinate if local phone lines are down.

It should also include meeting places in case your home becomes unsafe and you need to evacuate.

Having an emergency communication plan is essential in ensuring the safety of all family members during a storm.

By knowing how and where to connect with each other, you can quickly account for everyone’s safety and avoid unnecessary panic or distress.

This plan is especially important in areas prone to severe thunderstorms or other natural disasters.

6. Storm Shelter Safety

Concrete outdoor storm shelter outside a house

Storm shelters provide a safe space to retreat during severe thunderstorms. If you have a basement, this is typically the safest place to be during a storm.

If a basement is not available, find a small, windowless, ground-floor interior room, such as a bathroom or closet.

Cover yourself with cushions or a mattress for protection against flying debris.

Knowing where to seek shelter in your home and how to protect yourself while there is paramount during a storm.

The correct choice of shelter can protect you from high winds, flying debris, and even tornadoes that can accompany severe thunderstorms. Storm shelter safety is

7. Disaster Preparedness

Emergency preparedness form - Isolated on White

Disaster preparedness involves planning and preparing for potential disasters, including severe thunderstorms.

This includes having an emergency kit, creating an emergency communication plan, and knowing your local community’s emergency plans and evacuation routes.

It also means staying informed about potential threats and knowing what actions to take before, during, and after a disaster.

The importance of disaster preparedness cannot be overstated. Being prepared can save lives, reduce the severity of injuries, and prevent or minimize property damage.

It can also help reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. In essence, being prepared can make a significant difference during a disaster situation.

8. Weather Radio Importance

disaster prevention goods, radios, flashlights, disasters, blackouts

A weather radio plays a crucial role during a storm by providing real-time updates about the storm’s progress, potential threats, and advice from experts.

These radios broadcast warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day, directly from the nearest National Weather Service office.

Having a weather radio is vital for ensuring you have the most accurate and timely information during a storm.

Whereas television, internet, and cell phone services may be interrupted during severe weather, weather radios are typically more reliable.

They provide critical information that can help you stay safe, make important decisions, and understand when it’s safe to emerge after a storm.

9. Storm Insurance Coverage

Storm insurance coverage is a portion of your homeowner’s insurance policy that protects your home and personal property against damage caused by storms.

This can include coverage for wind damage, hail damage, and sometimes flood damage. It’s important to review your policy to understand what types of storm damage are covered and if there are any exclusions or limits.

The importance of having adequate storm insurance coverage cannot be understated. This coverage can help you recover financially from storm-related damage to your home and personal property.

Without it, you could face significant out-of-pocket costs to repair or replace damaged items.

Furthermore, having adequate coverage can provide peace of mind knowing that you’re protected against the financial impact of severe weather.

10. Pet Safety During Storms

small Jack Russell Terrier dog sits alone on a windowsill in bad weather and looks outdoors in the winter season

During a storm, pets should be brought indoors to protect them from the threat of high winds, flying debris, and frightening noises.

Provide a safe and comfortable space for them in your home. Keep them away from windows and make sure they have access to their bed, food, water, and toys.

Ensure all pets have identification tags and are microchipped in case they get scared and run away during a storm.

Pets are an important part of many families, and their safety is just as important as human safety during a storm.

By ensuring your pets are safe and comfortable, you can reduce their stress and potential for injury during severe weather.

Also, by preparing for your pets’ needs, you can also help maintain a calm and orderly environment in your home during the storm.

FAQs about Storm Safety

What is the 30-30 rule for storms?

Powerful lightning strike above house roof in Croatia during storm

The 30-30 rule is an easy way to determine the threat of lightning during a storm.

After you see a flash of lightning, count the seconds until you hear thunder.

If that time is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is close enough to pose a threat and you should go indoors.

After the storm has seemingly passed, wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder before going back outside.

What are 4 safety tips for thunderstorms?

  • Stay indoors when thunderstorms are in your area.
  • Unplug electronics and avoid using corded phones and appliances to reduce the risk of electrical shock if lightning strikes your home.
  • Stay away from windows, doors, and porches to avoid being injured by high winds or flying debris.
  • If you’re caught outside, avoid open fields, hilltops, isolated trees, and bodies of water where you can be more vulnerable to lightning.

Where is the safest place to be in a storm?

The safest place to be during a storm is inside a sturdy building, preferably one with a basement.

If there is no basement, seek shelter in a small, windowless, ground-floor interior room like a bathroom or closet.

If you’re outside and can’t reach a safe building, get into a vehicle, close the windows, and avoid touching metal.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.