The last few days in the Quinte area have certainly been filled with plenty of weather watches and warnings with varying levels of severity. I am prepared to confess publically that I am terrified of thunder and lightning. As opposed to reveling in the strength and magnitude of Mother Nature’s force, I am huddled in my basement praying for it to end. My cats find it highly amusing, but there are valid reasons for emergency preparedness when the storm strikes.
Thunderstorms, sometimes called electrical storms, lightning storms, or thundershowers, are not by themselves the greatest cause of damage and injury. However, thunderstorms can create lightning, hail, strong winds, tornadoes, and flashfloods. These related occurrences are the reason it is important to take thunderstorms seriously and to be prepared ahead of time.
Lightning is probably the greatest threat from a thunderstorm. It is estimated that each year in Canada, there are between nine and 10 lightning-related deaths and up to 164 lightning-related injuries. This is primarily because lightning is unpredictable. It can strike during heavy rain, and can even strike at distances of several kilometers away from any rain. Most fatalities occur to people caught outside during the summer months. Here are some helpful hints to help you “weather the storm”:
- Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.
- If a severe storm is forecast, secure everything that might be blown around or torn loose – indoors and outdoors. Flying objects such as garbage cans and lawn furniture can injure people and damage property.
- Trim dead branches and cut down dead trees to reduce the danger of these falling onto your house during a storm.
- Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.
- When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.
- Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.
- Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.
- If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines. Your cell phone will be safe to use.
- Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices.
- If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
- If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Do not touch anything metal.
- Avoid flooded roadways. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- If you are caught outside, go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles, or metal objects. Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding. Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible
- If you are advised by officials to evacuate, do so. Take your emergency kit with you.
- Listen to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding. 30 minutes following the last rumble of thunder is usually a good guideline.
- Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.
Information in this column is compiled by Shell-Lee Wert- Executive Director of CCSH, 470 Dundas Street East, Unit 63, Belleville, K8N 1G1. Please visit our website at https://ccsh.ca, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our CCSH Facebook page, or call 613-969-0130 or 613-396-6591 for information and assistance. CCSH is a proud United Way member agency. Funding in part from the South East Local Health Integration Network