Here’s what you can (and should!) do when a monsoon strikes.
1. During Lightning
Rhyme yourself to safety: When the thunder roars, go indoors.
Here are some tips to stay safe from lightning when you are outside.
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to get struck by lightning. Get inside a building.
- If you can’t get inside a building, stay as far away as possible from trees, swimming pools, and porches.
Once you’re inside, stay vigilant.
- Keep away from the windows.
- Remain indoors for at least 30 minutes after the last thunderclap you hear.
- The Department of Homeland Security recommends unplugging all electronics if a thunderstorm and lightning are expected.
- Lightning can travel through electrical systems and give you a shock.
- If you can hear the thunder, it is too late to safely unplug your electronics. Stay away from the wiring.
- If you need to make calls, use a cordless landline phone or a cell phone.
- Lightning can travel through the telephone wires, which makes wired telephones more dangerous.
- Stay away from running water. Water is a great conductor of electricity. Lightning can travel through your house’s plumbing system or metal pipes.
2. During Power Outages
Your power might go out! Here’s how you can prepare.
- If you are outside, stay away from downed power lines and report them by dialing 911.
- Indoors, unplug any electronics you hope to keep in working order. Voltage surges could damage any appliance that is still plugged in when the power restores.
- Keep your refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. Keeping doors closed will keep it cold for up to 4 hours during a power loss. Avoid the urge to open that door just because you’re bored.
- Same goes for your freezer! If you keep the door closed, a fully packed freezer will keep your food frozen for 2 days; a half full freezer will keep food frozen for 1 day.
3. During a Flash Flood
Flash flooding is the most deadly hazard in a monsoon. If you retain nothing else from this guide, remember that six inches of moving flood water can knock you off your feet. A foot of moving water can carry away a car. The faster the water, the greater the danger.
Here are some other tips that you should keep in mind:
- If you are on the road, avoid low water crossings.
- Never drive on flooded roadways. The roads underneath may be damaged. Just 1 to 2 feet of water can cause most vehicles, even SUVs, to be carried away.
- Turn around; don’t drown. Don’t ignore posted signs or drive beyond barriers blocking flooded areas.
- Beware of distant thunderstorms, especially in mountains. Valleys below are at greater risk for flash floods.
More Safety Tips for Motorists
It’s very possible you’ll be in a car during a heavy downpour, a flash flood, or a lightning storm. Bone up on your car safety so you can be as safe in the driver’s seat as you are at home.
- Turn around; don’t drown. Avoid wading or driving through flood waters whenever possible
- Keep a safe following distance (at least 5 seconds) from other vehicles. Your tires can lose traction on wet surfaces and stopping suddenly becomes difficult.
- Keep away from large vehicles moving through puddles. They can throw a blinding splash of water across your windshield.
- If your car skids, do not slam on the brakes. Taking your foot off the gas and turning the wheel in the direction of the slide helps straighten your car.
- If your vehicle comes in contact with a power line, do not try to exit the car, unless you see smoke or fire. Live power lines can charge the metal parts of your car and cause electrocution if you touch them.
If your vehicle is on fire due to a downed power line, try to get out of the car without touching the metal frame with any part of your body. Think of it as a fun game! The object of the game is to avoid frying your fragile human body with the fire of a thousand suns.
Driving During Dust Storms
Surprise! The terror continues! The aftermath of a monsoon is often a dust storm, and dust storms mean wild driving conditions. You should avoid driving during dust storms, but if you are a dunce who ignores good advice OR you have to drive due to an emergency, here’s what to keep in mind.
- Keep your headlights turned on and drive slowly to improve your reaction time.
- Do not leave your lights on if you pull off the road during a dust storm. In limited visibility, other drivers might assume you are still driving and crash into you.
- Pull off the road as far as possible to make collisions less likely.
I can hear you now! You’re saying, “Wow! What else happens after a monsoon?“