Riding the Storm Out: How to Stay Safe in Severe Weather

april showersWeather wise, most of us can agree it was a long, unpredictable winter. But with spring temperatures finally here—by the way, you’re on probation, Punxsutawney Phil—we’ve had more than our fill of April showers…with more yet to come. And unfortunately, some are guaranteed to take a turn for the dangerous. In 2011, severe thunderstorms (including tornado events) cost $25.9 billion in insured losses—more than double the previous record—and $46.6 billion in economic losses, according to risk management group Munich Re. It was also the deadliest thunderstorm season in over 75 years, with 553 direct fatalities. To learn more about losses due to natural disasters, download our free publication Tradition, Technology and Taking Risks: Five Modern Tips for Marketing Your Insurance Business. At any given moment, about 2,000 thunderstorms can be moving over the face of the earth. Even though most severe storms last less than 30 minutes, some form long-lasting squall lines or expand into mighty super cells that can spawn tornadoes. In general, the dangers of thunderstorms include strong winds, heavy rain, hail, flooding, and of course lightning. So, how should you prepare to ride out the storm and stay safe when spring showers turn ugly? Since spring weather conditions can change rapidly, it’s important to keep up with the forecasts via weather updates on your smart phone, alerts on your desktop at work, or simply switching on the TV or radio when you have a free minute. A severe thunderstorm watch means unsafe storm activity is possible in your area, so plan your day accordingly. A storm warning, on the other hand, means stop what you’re doing and take cover now. If you’re outdoors and a strong storm catches you by surprise, stay low and seek shelter as fast as possible. If you’re in a group, spread out rather than huddling together (thus making yourself a larger target). Don’t get close to trees, metal objects or water. Finally, use your head: Feeling your hair stand on end is a sign that lightning will strike any second; drop to your knees and crouch down versus laying flat on the ground. Should a severe storm strike while traveling in your car, pull onto the shoulder and turn on your emergency flashers. Again, keep your distance from tall trees and, surprisingly, highway underpasses that can flood or become clogged with other vehicles or debris. Remain inside the car but avoid touching metal objects whenever possible. Once it seems safe to resume driving, avoid roads that are covered by water; shallow-looking spots can be deceiving and may stall or sweep away a vehicle. Being indoors during a severe thunderstorm may be the best case scenario, but there are still plenty of precautions to heed, starting with staying off the phone or using any electrical equipment. Common sense will tell you to also stay out of the shower or bath during unstable weather to avoid electrocution. Unplugging computers and appliances is another smart move—and speaking of moves, move away from windows and hunker down with your flashlight in a sturdy interior room. By familiarizing yourself ahead of time with these simple tips, you’ve increased your odds of staying safe in the event of threatening thunderstorms. Now, bring on those May flowers! Sources: Insurance Information Institute (www.iii.org); USAToday.com Weather LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066. Free Disaster Planning Checklist  


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