Some people think these are no big deal, but thunderstorms are dangerous. There are several associated dangers of thunderstorms including tornadoes, strong winds, hail, lightning, and flash flooding. The most dangerous situation arises when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended period of time. Thunderstorms typically produce rain for a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. A severe storm produces hail at least three quarters of an inch in diameter, has winds of 58 miles per hour or higher, or produces a tornado.
A “Severe Thunderstorm Watch” tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to a radio or television for information. A “Severe Thunderstorm Warning” is issued when severe weather has been witnessed by spotters or by radar. A warning indicates danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm. You should take cover immediately.
Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you can’t count to 30 before hearing thunder. If possible, stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder. Stay alert to your surrounding and always use good judgment when making decisions that could have lasting effects on friends, families, and co-workers.
On the average, 90 people die each year in the United States from lightning strikes. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from lightning:
- Get inside a building immediately. If you have to stay outside, keep away from metal objects and stay below ground level. Avoid hilltops, open beaches, or fields; most importantly, stay away from open water and tall trees.
- Seek shelter inside your car. If you feel your hair standing on end, squat with your head between your knees. Do not lie flat.
- Avoid using the telephone or other electrical devices. Do not take a bath, shower or stand near plumbing.
QUICK FACT: Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. “Heat Lightning” is actually from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. Lightning kills more Americans than tornadoes and hurricanes each year.
We have all seen the news about vehicles which tried to cross a flooded street, often with tragic results. Even a four-wheel drive vehicle isn’t safe in high water areas. Flash floods have surprising lifting power. Water displaces 1,500 pounds of weight for every foot it rises. If a car weighs 3,000 pounds, it takes only two feet of water to send it downstream. It only takes 6 inches of water to sweep a person off his/her feet. One foot of water can cause a compact vehicle to lose control and “float” away. Once the car is swept away, the vehicle may become a death trap because the electric windows and door locks can short out when water reaches them, trapping the occupants inside. Do not drive through high water or flooded areas. Observe all warning signs and don’t take any chances with your or life.
Spring is a prime time spawning ground for tornadoes. If a tornado is spotted in your area, here are some tips to follow and help keep you safe:
- Go low and get low. - Go to the lowest level of the structure you are in. If you are at home when a tornado strikes, go to the innermost part of the home on the lowest floor such as a bathroom or closet, preferably an enclosure with no windows.
- Crouch or lie down, cover and protect your head. If you live in a mobile home, go outside, and lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
- If you are in an office building, go to the designated safe area for tornadoes. If you can’t get there in time, stay in an interior hallway or basement.
- Do not take cover in your car. If you are driving down the road and see a tornado, leave your car immediately. If you have time, get inside a building. If not, lie flat in a ditch or ravine and cover your head with your arms.
QUICK FACT: A “Tornado Watch” watch means “watch” the sky. Weather conditions are right for tornadoes to form. A “Tornado Warning” means a tornado has been sighted or identified on radar. Take cover immediately.
If you have any questions any information found in this posting, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook!