The saying goes, "If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a minute and it will change," and this is certainly true for New England summers. How many times have you been at your child's soccer game in the summer sunshine only to be running for cover a few minutes later when a thunderstorm rolls in? While those summer soakers can feel great in the heat, they can also turn scary quickly and may even be dangerous. Find out what steps you can take beforehand to minimize the likelihood of destruction and review what you should do during and after the storm.
How to prepare your home or office for stormy weather
- Conduct regular roof inspections and maintenance.
- Remove dead branches and keep trees and shrubs trimmed.
- Clear rain gutters and drains, allowing water to flow.
- Make a list in advance of items that you'll need to bring inside.
- Create or update your emergency kit.
- Create a home/office inventory. In the event of damage, you'll want records of your items. Your inventory will come in handy if you need to file an insurance claim. Take photos so you can show how your items looked before the storm.
- Review emergency warning systems. How will you know what is happening if the power goes out or the phone is dead? Know what numbers to call and what radio stations to listen to.
- Make sure everyone in your home and/or office knows what to do in an emergency. Having an emergency plan is a must for all homes and offices. Not only should you have an up-to-date plan that includes emergency contacts, an emergency meeting place, and other guidelines, but everyone needs to be familiar with it.
- If you know a storm is moving in, it's nice to check with your neighbors to see if they're prepared, particularly if they have mobility issues or are elderly!
Learn more about how to keep your employees safe during an emergency, including what should be included in your emergency response plan, here.
What you should do during a storm if you're outside
- Seek shelter ASAP.
- If you can't get inside, avoid bodies of water, hills, and tall objects in your area. Remember, lightening will strike the tallest object so you do not want to be near it.
- Avoid touching metal and anything that conducts electricity.
What to do during a storm if you're inside
- Stay away from anything that conducts electricity.
- Stay away from windows and doors.
- Use a battery powered radio for emergency alerts.
- No showers or washing the dishes: plumbing conducts electricity.
- Close shutters (if you have them) and drapes. Hail is possible in summer and if it breaks a window, this extra layer of protection can prevent or minimize glass blown inside.
What to do during a storm if you're in a vehicle
- Don’t risk traveling on flooded roads. It takes only two feet of moving water to wash your car away. It can be hard to judge the depth of water on a road, and this depth can change, so turn around, don't drown!
- Safely turn off the road and park.
- Turn on your emergency flashers.
- Avoid touching metal.
What to do after the storm
- Check on your neighbors.
- Report power outages.
- Stay away from downed utility wires. You should always assume they are live, avoid them, and report them.
- Call 211 if you need assistance (911 if it's an emergency).
- Check for damage and document it (take photos, keep receipts, and so forth). Contact your insurance agent for next steps.
- Check basement for flooding.
- At the office, check for hazards and slippery spots that may harm employees and customers. Remediate any potentially dangerous situations and put up clear warning signs otherwise.
- Clear your gutters and storm drains again. They may have filled with leaves and other debris from the storm.
- If you are hitting the road, don't drive through moving water.
- Replenish any supplies used from the emergency kit.
Summer storms, whether it's a passing thunderstorm or a hurricane, have the potential to do a lot of damage if you're caught unprepared. You should create an emergency response plan, continue with regular maintenance on your building, especially the roof, document important items, and review your insurance coverage. Flood insurance is a separate coverage that you may or may not need. You can also add extra protection for windstorms. If you're confused about your coverage or have any questions, contact our office. It's our job to help!
Learn more about what to do at home or at work during an emergency in general here.