In recent years, Utah has been buffeted by powerful windstorms with hurricane-force gusts. There’s no stopping nature, but you can be prepared should one of these storms strike again.
Below, we share a list of tasks and suggestions to help you and your family get through seasonal winds. Remember: the best way to stay safe is to prepare in advance.
Start From the Outside
The best place to start is outside of your home. On the whole, it is impossible to control the environment outside of your four walls. However, you can do many little things to help mitigate the damage that may occur.
If your house is surrounded by a lot of bushes and trees, these will need to be cared for. Keeping all bushes neatly trimmed will ensure they won’t be caught up in the winds. Similarly, keeping long or dead tree branches cut back will prevent them from being thrown into your home.
If any trees are dead or dying, remove them. Dead trees are much easier to uproot than living ones. Any others that might be near your home must be assessed. Consider transplanting them elsewhere in the yard if they’re too close for comfort.
After this, make sure any outdoor furniture or appliances are secure. Tie down any BBQs, tables, and chairs, or children’s toys. If you can’t tie them down, using sandbags will help. You can do the same for sheds and outdoor storage containers. We’ve seen strong winds toss trampolines like rag dolls!
Finally, ensure any vehicles are stored away in a garage. If you do not have one, keep them sheltered near your home. Check that there are no electrical or telephone wires hanging above them. If there are, find another secure location. If this is not possible, cover your vehicle with a tarp or other insulated matting to prevent damage from hail or flying debris.
Inside The Home
The most important consideration for inside your home is a safe place to hide. Find a location within the center of your house or in a basement where you can set up your emergency shelter. You and your family should stay away from any windows or doorways during a storm.
Underground is the safest place, but not all houses have a basement or shelter. In these cases, choose a room that is central to your house with four solid walls. A pantry or bathroom works well for this.
Once you have chosen a safe place, you need to prepare an emergency provision kit. This will contain everything you will need to help you during a storm. Important items to keep on hand include:
- A Flashlight and spare batteries
- A cache of canned or non-perishable food and bottled water (at least 3 days’ worth)
- A first aid kit
- A whistle or loud noisemaker, in case you need to summon help
- A hand-crank radio
- A set of warm clothes and blankets
Once you have all this in place, check it frequently. If any batteries seem to have died or any food damaged or spoiled, replace them immediately. Do not remove this kit from your secure location, and make sure everyone in the household knows where it is. Put together an emergency plan to make sure everyone knows where to go and what to do. This way, you won’t need to worry about where each family member is—they will come to you.
If the worst should happen, have a plan for where you and your family will go while your home is repaired. Some insurance plans might cover a hotel or alternative accommodation during this time, but it pays to have a solid idea about where to go straight away. It is also a good idea to reach out to any friends or family who might be willing to take you in if your home becomes unlivable.
Other Things to Be Mindful Of
If you have begun to see signs that a strong windstorm is approaching, you will have a short period in which to prepare. The weather station will send out a warning and will update you frequently.
You can track the progress of the storm via a multitude of weather apps and local sites. Also, back up any computers you have and charge your electronic devices to their full capacity.
Gather your family, and go over the emergency plan. Take your children or any vulnerable adults to your sheltered area and secure them in. Ensure they know where all the emergency provisions are and what to do if things get worse. If you have any elderly or vulnerable neighbors, it would also be prudent to check on them. Exchange contact details and make sure they are safe if you have the time.
Shut down off all gas and water lines in your house to prevent any leakage within the house. Next, begin battening down any windows and sealing any doors. If you have storm shutters, affix them and make sure they are secure. Double-check any outdoor furniture and each entry to your house for any faults or damage.
Once you are sure your outdoor area is as secure as you can make it, it is time to get into your shelter. Keep everyone away from the outer walls of your home, especially any doors or windows. Keep low, and wrap up beneath blankets to protect yourselves from the cold and any water that may get in. Keep calm, and help everyone stay in good spirits as you wait out the storm.
Do not leave your home or shelter until you have heard that the storm is over via the radio or weather apps.
Severe windstorms can be devastating, but with proper planning and forethought, you can greatly mitigate the damage they will cause and protect yourself and your loved ones. And in the worst-case scenario that winds still manage to cause damage to your home, have the number of our Davis County disaster cleanup specialists on hand. Whether the damage is minor or major, our Disaster Company team will return your home to its pre-storm state.