Spring is a fickle season that brings nature’s renewal of buds and blooms to the trees and fields and also brings dark, powerful rolling storms that can wreak havoc. From 2016 through 2020, the National Weather Service recorded 28 deaths, 133 injuries and over $64 million in property and crop damage from weather events in Indiana alone.
Weather disasters can occur year-round, but most of the worst storms Indiana receives come in the spring.
“While not all damage can be prevented, being prepared can minimize damage and reduce injury or death,” said John Gasstrom, CEO of Indiana Electric Cooperatives.
Here are some tips from your electric cooperative for staying safe before and after a storm hits.
Before the storm
- Make sure your cell phone is charged. Consider purchasing an external battery charger for your phone to charge it without electricity.
- Have a battery-operated radio available so you can stay updated on the latest weather watches and warnings.
- Unplug appliances and other electrical items, such as computers. Damage can occur from power surges caused by nearby lightning strikes.
- Have an emergency kit ready and create a family communication plan.
Following the storm
- If you are driving and come upon fallen power lines, turn around. Never drive over or around fallen lines.
- If a downed power line falls on your vehicle, stay in the vehicle. Call 911. Exit only if your life is in immediate danger from a fire or other reason. Then, jump clear of your vehicle being certain to never touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time; then shuffle away keeping your feet together at all times.
- While checking for damage outside your home, be aware of hazards from exposed nails, broken glass, and broken tree branches dangling on other limbs.
- To avoid the chance of a fire or explosion, use a flashlight, instead of a candle or torch, to inspect your home in the dark.
- Since downed power lines could still be energized, do not touch them or any objects in contact with them. Call 911 to report the downed lines.
When the spring storms arrive, know how to keep yourself, your family and your property safe from harm during severe weather.
Tips for safely cleaning up after a storm
- Wear proper safety material. As you are cleaning up, wear proper protection to prevent injury. Work gloves, safety glasses, heavy-duty work shirt with long sleeves, work pants, and steel-toe work boots are a good idea if you are clearing large amounts of broken, splintered or sharp debris.
- Stay away from power lines. Always assume a downed power line is live. Downed power lines pose a particularly dangerous threat in areas where individuals are clearing fallen trees and branches from roads and lawns. Let the professionals handle this job. It’s not worth the risk. If you see a downed power line that is sparking or on fire, call your electric utility immediately.
- Stay away from damaged buildings or structures. If a building has been subjected to flood waters or high winds, it may not be structurally safe. It’s best to stay away from these types of structures until professionals can assess the extent of the damage.
- Never operate gasoline-powered equipment indoors. Gas engines emit carbon monoxide — an odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas you should never breathe.