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How to Prepare and Respond to Severe Summer Storms

Bad weather.
There may be nothing more frightening than the helpless feeling when a severe storm approaches. Most of us hope and pray it will pass without serious damage.
Unless you’ve taken proper precautions, the impact of such a storm can be catastrophic. It’s not just a matter of protecting your possessions; severe weather can be life-threatening, and should be taken very seriously.
In summertime, the biggest danger is usually from thunderstorms. A severe storm can spawn a tornado, but even if it doesn’t, the damage caused by high winds, heavy rains, hail, and lightning can be devastating.
In our part of the country, severe storms are pretty common. Knowing what to do when they arrive is critical. The tips you’ll find in this article will go a long way toward protecting your home, your family and your possessions. The only catch is you have to act on them!

Since we’re focusing on thunderstorms, let’s start with the most obvious danger – lightning. While you may feel protected inside your home, lightning can actually still cause big problems.
There are two things you should never use during a lightning storm. One is a wired phone. Cell phones are okay, but any phone that plugs into a wall could carry electricity from a lightning strike right into your body.
The other thing you should never do is take a bath or shower during a thunderstorm. Lightning can be carried through the pipes in your home.
Lightning can also cause all kinds of trouble for your appliances and other electronic devices.
It sounds like a lot of work, but one way to protect things like your refrigerator, washer, microwave, computer and television, is to simply unplug them.
That is unless you have a good surge suppressor on each one.
Even better is to add a second layer of protection using a whole-house surge suppressor installed by a licensed electrician. Coupled with individual protectors, there’s no better way to prevent damage from electrical spikes.

Another problem brought on by rain storms is obviously flooding. Flooding can damage possessions inside and outside your home.
A good early warning system can help limit the damage from flooding, whether it’s brought on by rain or just a leaky pipe or fixture.
There are products you can purchase that won’t necessarily stop flooding, but let you know about it before it does major damage. You can also install equipment that will cut off the supply of water into your house if it senses a problem caused by a leak in your house.
You should also consider investing in, or maintaining your sewer backflow valve. Without it, you could have unsanitary water being pushed back into your home. That’s not a pleasant situation under any circumstances.
If you’re home has a sump pump, you want to make sure it’s properly maintained so it will function properly when needed. A licensed plumber can make sure it’s in peak condition.

After the Storm
Once the storm passes there are still some safety and comfort issues to consider.
Hopefully you haven’t lost power to your home. If you did, it may be too late to buy a portable generator. If you’re in an area with lots of storms, a permanent generator set can make all the difference in the world.
If you’re waiting for electricity to come back on, keep your appliances unplugged so the sudden surge doesn’t damage them. This is another instance where a protective surge suppressor will reduce the risk of damage and save you a lot of time and effort.
Check to be sure rising water, wind or lightning hasn’t damaged any of your utility services. Check for fire in and around your home.
You should also take a look at your central air conditioning system to make sure it’s in good working order. It can be damaged by flying debris, and at the very least may need to have some coil fins straightened out. Worst case is it might have been zapped by lightning.
Most system contain delicate electronics both inside the home and outside. If you notice any damage, or suspect the system has been zapped by lightning, it’s probably best to have a technician check it out before turning it back on.