Although summer brings sunny skies and soaring temperatures it also brings summer storms, especially in the ‘dog days’ of August. And these storms can – as many of us know first hand – be pretty nasty. As water and fire damage restoration experts we know all too well the damage they can do to homes and commercial buildings. Flooding, fire and more can result from just a single short but violent summer storm, and often there was very little a property’s owners could have done to prevent it it.
But there can be more than just a threat to buildings during a summer storm. Lightning and flash floods injure dozens of Canadians every summer. And while you may have thought of what you would do to help safeguard your home during a summer storm, and even know who to call if something does go wrong do you know what you should be doing to protect yourself? Here are some simple, common sense ways to reduce your risk.
Summer Storm Safety Indoors
Avoid Water and Wires – If lightning strikes a building, the electrical charge it creates can quickly surge through both electrical wiring and water pipes. Essentially this means that you could get shocked if you happen to be in contact with running water OR using any device that is plugged into ‘the mains’.
To be safe, stay away from microwaves, toasters, landline phones and other plugged in gadgets until the storm has passed. And don’t do anything that involves using the tap, even washing the dishes.
Wait for Quiet Skies – Even after the pouring rain stops, it’s usually best to stay inside for a a while longer, even if you are keen to get outside to check for any property damage that may have occurred. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from the storm itself, so just because the rain is gone may not mean the danger is just yet.
You can fairly accurately gauge your distance from a storm by the sound of thunder, which usually doesn’t travel more than 10 miles. If you can hear it, you are still at risk. Stay put until the skies are silent again even if the rain stopped a while ago.
Summer Storm Safety Outdoors
Skip Shaky Shelter – If you are caught outside in an open area during a storm – a park perhaps – it’s very tempting to take cover under a picnic shelter or maybe in golf cart. However, in open-sided structures with no conductors to channel strikes, a lightning bolt’s path of least resistance to the ground could be you. Instead keep moving towards proper shelter as quickly and calmly as you can. Better still, when the weather forecast calls for a storm take notice, and plan your outdoor activities for a different time.
Steer Clear of Trees – Lightning often connects with trees simply because trees are tall. If struck, a tree conducts potentially deadly current into the ground and can even explode from the bolt’s extreme heat. Add in gale-force winds that can snap large branches, and the result is serious danger. Be smart and give trees a wide berth.
Don’t Touch that Dial – It’s not just a myth; sitting inside a vehicle is safer than being outdoors during a storm, but not because of the rubber tires. The car’s metal body protects you by conducting electricity around the passenger cabin and into the ground. But, for this reason, you should avoid contact with any metal components in the vehicle , such as door handles or the radio dial.
Avoid the Puddles – As you have probably seen on TV if not in person, torrential rain can wash out chunks of road, creating puddles that look shallow but run deep and even a mere 6 inches of water can stall a car engine.
Stalling increases the risk that another vehicle will hit yours, and it also leaves you vulnerable in the event of a flash flood. If you can’t drive round around a large puddle, find another route or pull over in a nonflooded area until you verify that the road is passable.