Storm season rushed in like a lion in May, spawning a destructive derecho that swept through eastern South Dakota packing 100-mph winds. In June, a smattering of successive storms produced grapefruit-sized hail just north of Wall. While we can’t tell what more Mother Nature may have store, we can certainly take steps to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe when bad weather comes rolling through.
BEFORE THE STORM
Stormy weather can be hard to predict, but there are proactive steps you can take to ensure that you’re well-equipped for an unforeseen emergency:
- Have a game plan. Identify the safest place to shelter in a storm; usually this will be your basement or a windowless interior room. If you have a family, make sure you talk to them about when/where to seek shelter.
- Make a storm kit. This should consist of water, non-perishable foods, First-Aid supplies, flashlights and any other provisions (such as prescriptions) necessary to ensure your wellbeing in an emergency. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, but try to have a few items gathered together in one place so you aren’t left scrambling if there’s a weather-related power outage.
DURING THE STORM
Finding yourself in the middle of a storm system can be frightening, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Make sure you:
- Pay attention. Make sure you’re keeping up with storm alerts, whether they’re on your smartphone, radio or TV. Remember, a watch means severe weather is possible and you should be prepared, while a warning means severe weather has been sighted and it’s time to take action. The more information you have, the more decisively you’ll be able to act.
- Pull over. If you’re caught out on the road during a storm or tornado without nearby shelter, do not try to outrun it. Get off the road, cover yourself with a coat or blanket (if possible) and stay low.
- Take shelter. Get to your planned safe space and protect yourself by covering your head with your arms, or blankets and pillows if you have them available.
AFTER THE STORM
Even after the weather has moved on, there are still potential hazards to consider. Stay vigilant and keep the following in mind:
- Steer clear. If you encounter a downed power line, do not attempt to drive or walk over it. Lines and utility poles could still be energized and pose a life-threatening risk. Stay at least 10 feet away from the line and anything touching it.
- Conserve energy. If the power is out, save your phone’s battery by limiting calls and texts to emergency communications only. Be sure to contact your local cooperative to notify them of the outage.
- Take care with clean-up. If you’re cleaning up from the storm around your property, dress appropriately. Work gloves, long pants/socks and thick-soled shoes will all help protect you from dangerous debris. Remember to keep away from any downed electrical equipment on or near your property, and call your electric co-op.
Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy some fun in the sun, but it can also bring severe, unpredictable weather. Talk with your loved ones about storm safety and have a plan in place so that the next time a storm hits, you know exactly what to do. And remember: when the storm has ended, your local electric co-op will be standing ready to make sure you get the power you need.
Stay safe, stay smart and power on!