Thunderstorms are common occurrences in the summer months, especially in coastal areas. They can even turn into hurricanes occasionally, resulting in fatalities and a lot of property damage.
While most people are usually safe indoors, there are times when a thunderstorm is so severe that it could prove hazardous to you even when you’re in your apartment. Knowing how to keep both yourself and your loved ones safe during these times is crucial. Read through these helpful tips, and you’ll feel good knowing you’re ready for the worst.
Respond to Warnings
If there’s been a severe thunderstorm warning in your area recently, it’s a good idea to prepare ahead of time by bringing in any heavy or bulky items from your balcony or deck, as heavy winds could easily destroy these or hurl them against the building. If you’re in an area that gets a lot of extreme weather patterns, you should also consider investing in storm shutters, which are specifically designed to protect your windows and glass doors from storm debris.
You should also look into your building’s severe weather protocols and familiarize yourself with the location of all emergency exits and fire escapes. If you’re really lucky, your building may even have a designated shelter or emergency area. That way, if it becomes necessary to evacuate the apartment, you won’t be second-guessing yourself and wasting valuable time.
Create a Personal Safe Space
You may also find it a good idea to have a dedicated safe zone within your own unit that you can seek shelter in. Perhaps you have a small room with no windows, or where you can remain at a good distance from any windows in the apartment, such as a closet, bathroom, or laundry room. This would be the safest place to go in the event of a major thunderstorm. As the storm approaches, you may also want to move a piece of furniture, such as a large cushion or mattress, into the space to “barricade” yourself with.
Get Renters Insurance
Renters insurance is another box to check off when it comes to thunderstorm preparedness. It’s an especially smart move because it also usually covers other disasters like apartment fires. Even if your landlord doesn’t require it, you’ll be glad to have it in case you do need to file a claim on damages to your unit.
Protect Your Car
Speaking of damage, cars also need to be protected during thunderstorms. Ensure that your car is safe from falling trees and other such debris by parking it in a safe place before the storm hits —preferably one with a roof. Many apartment buildings have private garages, but if yours doesn’t, finding a public garage somewhere is the best thing you can do. Or maybe you know someone with a garage whom you can talk to about parking your vehicle at their place well ahead of time.
Stock Up on Essentials
Another common-sense precaution you can take ahead of a thunderstorm is to assemble a first aid kit with essentials such as bandages, antibiotic ointment, and any medications you may need in an emergency situation. In a severe storm or hurricane, electricity in your building can be disrupted and power outages can last for days (or even weeks). Because of this, you may want to stock up on canned food, bottles of water, and batteries, as well as keep a list of emergency numbers handy. In case you are without power at night, you should also keep some candles, matches, and a good-quality flashlight in your emergency stash. A propane grill or cooktop can be used to heat up your food when you are without electricity. You may also find a portable radio useful in tracking the storm and getting the latest updates, in the event that you can’t turn on the TV and your internet is down.
Don’t Get Shocked!
When indoors, you should do your best to avoid conductors of electricity like metals, puddles, and phone lines. In short, stay away from anything that could easily get struck by lightning. Don’t shower, do your laundry, or otherwise run water during a storm, as lightning may actually travel into the pipes. Phones and other electric appliances should also be avoided, as lightning can also strike electrical hookups and phone lines. If you are outdoors, move inside as soon as you see lightning. If at all possible, remain low to the floor in your apartment. If you’re in an upper-story unit, you might even want to take shelter on a lower floor. Just talk to the tenants beneath you about temporarily staying with them until the weather settles down. At the very least, try to stay in the middle of the building, away from windows and doors.
Putting your own thunderstorm safety plan into place, in addition to getting a better idea of what procedures exist for storm safety in your building, will eliminate a lot of the anxiety caused by the extreme weather patterns that are so common during this time of year.