The Deadly Side of Severe Weather
Okay, we’ve all been told by our mothers to come in when it starts storming, and we naturally stay away from windows and refrain from holding metal objects in our hand when there is lightning around. All of which is fine and dandy, but all too often we don’t stop to consider that severe weather can be potentially life threatening, on a number of levels beyond simple water damage.
The leading cause of death due to severe weather in the United States is flooding, with just under 100 people dying in flood related events each year. Texas is the most flood prone state in the country, with an area of central Texas commonly referred to as Flash Flood Alley. Floods can occur any time, and at any place, and for a variety of reasons. Flash floods are especially dangerous because they form so quickly and move so rapidly, there is normally very little warning for those who may be in its path. Be aware of the flood risk for your area and have an evacuation plan in place, preferably one that leads to higher ground, and be prepared to take it as soon as you hear a flash flood warning.
If flooding is the leading cause of severe weather deaths in the US, then wind is the leading cause worldwide, almost double that of flooding on a worldwide scale. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and other high velocity wind events claim more than 13,000 lives every year. It’s not hard to see why this is the case, as there is typically very little adequate shelter from high winds and the flying debris they bring with them. Underground shelters are always preferable in high wind situations, and if that isn’t available, a home, office building or church is a good choice, taking shelter in an inner room without windows doors or other outside openings. Try not to choose a room above ground level if at all possible.
Lightning is the third most dangerous culprit in severe weather fatalities, claiming around 55 deaths each year. Lightning has a radius of up to ten miles outside the border of a given storm, and humans are ideal conductors for these slashes of electrical current as it seeks the ground. Get inside whenever lightning is around, and of course avoid metal objects, especially metal rods or poles (there is a reason for the term “lightning rod”). Also stay away from bathtubs, sinks, and electronic equipment (remember your mother telling you to get off the phone because there was a storm coming? She had a reason for that). Enclosed vehicles are also good shelter as the rubber tires provide good insulation from any electrical influx that may strike.
Hail is another major problem. While not usually responsible for fatalities, hail stones can range from pea sized up to softball sized, perfectly capable of causing injury or damage to cars and homes. Roofs may be severely damaged by hail, allowing access by rain, water, or snow and resulting in serious water damage. It only takes a few seconds of severe hail to cause thousands of dollars in damage to your property.
For storm repair, contact your local water damage restoration professionals.