Storm Safety Tips

As with any weather-related event, advanced preparation is key to preventing damages and ensuring safety. There are measures you can do well in advance of a storm, and there are actions you will need to take immediately prior to a storm. Our suggestions are outlined below. If you have tips you would like to add, we would like to hear from you. Please submit your suggestions using our form at the end of this article.

General Preparatory Guidelines

Heavy rainstorms bring with it the potential for localized flooding, high winds and power outages. Prepare for these events by having the following measures in place all-year round:

  • Keep your electric and natural gas company's emergency number on or near your phone.
  • Keep your water department's or water company's number on or near your phone.
  • Have at least one telephone in your home, parish or office that does not need electricity (wall plug style or cellular). Cordless phones do not work when there is a power outage.
  • Know ahead of time when and how to safely turn off your electric, gas and water supplies. Have the tools available to turn off these services if it becomes necessary to do so.
  • If someone in your residence uses life-sustaining equipment, such as a respirator, contact your utility company in advance; they can advise you on how to prepare in the event of a power outage.
  • Make temporary plywood covers to protect windows and sliding doors, especially if you live in a coastal community. Drill holes for screws or lag bolts in each cover and around each window. Note: Taping of windows does not prevent them from breaking. 
  • Put together an emergency kit in the event you lose power for an extended period of time. Include non-perishable food items, bottled water, first aid kit, disinfectant hand soap, and batteries. For a more complete list, please download our Emergency Kit Checklist.
  • Have a battery-powered NOAA radio on hand, along with a stash of batteries.
  • Have flashlights for each room in your home/office, along with extra batteries. 
  • Purchase surge protectors for computers and other high-end electronic equipment.
  • Have a backup system in place for important computer files.
  • Prune trees year-round and remove damaged or dead branches. Remove any dead trees from your property. See our webpage on Tree Maintenance for more information.

Immediately Prior to a Storm

If a weather advisory or warning has been issued, it is critical that you stay informed. Storms can change their tracks for the better, or for the worse. If a severe storm is on its way, please consider the following measures:

  • Have your emergency kit, flashlights and battery-operated radio ready and accessible.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters. Providing clear drainage will help prevent misdirected flooding.
  • Advise custodians to check all drains, grates and basins to ensure they are free of leaves and debris.
  • Check to see if sump pumps are working.
  • Secure outdoor objects, such as signs and trash cans, that could blow away and cause damage to people/property.
  • Remove dead or rotting branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
  • Depending on the expected intensity of the storm (i.e.; in the event of a hurricane), cover window and sliding doors with temporary plywood covers.
  • Fill the fuel tank of your car; gas stations may not be operating to full capacity for days after the storm.
  • Be sure sacramental registers and other important documents are in a secure location, preferably on the upper floors of the dwelling or office.
  • Stock up on bottled water, non-perishable food and batteries if you have not maintained a supply.
  • If you plan to use a generator, be sure to obtain a supply of gasoline in advance.
  • If you have a cellphone, make sure it is fully charged.
  • Fill a bathtub or other large basin with water if you are on a well and a heavy storm is predicted. The water can be used for washing or flushing toilets.
  • If an evacuation order is issued, HEED it.

During a Storm

Please take precautions to keep yourself and others safe during a storm:

  • Keep informed - listen to the radio for weather updates and information.
  • Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges can cause significant mechanical damage.
  • If the basement floods before you have a chance to shut off electric and natural gas service, do not enter the basement. There is the possibility of electric shock if any electrical wires are touching the water. Contact your electric company as soon as possible.
  • If your heat goes out during a storm, close the door of rooms you do not need and dress in layers. If you need to use an alternate heating source such as a kerosene heater, fireplace or wood stove, be sure to have adequate ventilation to the outside. Without ventilation, carbon monoxide fumes can build up in your home and cause sickness or death. Never use a natural gas or propane stove or oven to heat your home.

After a Storm

  • If you notice sparks when you restore power, of if there is an odor of something burning but no visible fire, immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker and notify your utility company.
  • Be sure all electrical equipment and appliances are completely dry before returning them to service. It is advisable to have a certified electrician check these items if you have any doubts.
  • If power lines are lying on the ground or dangling near the ground, do not touch the lines. Notify your utility company as soon as possible that the lines have been damaged, or that the power lines are down. Do not attempt to move or repair the power lines.
  • Do not drive through standing water if downed power lines are in the water. If a power line falls across your car while you are driving, continue to drive away from the line. If the engine stalls, do not turn off the ignition. Stay in your car and wait for emergency personnel. Do not allow anyone other than emergency personnel to approach your vehicle.
  • If you’re cleaning storm debris, don’t pile it in the road or near utilities poles and equipment. This will only impede emergency responders.

Reporting Property Damage

  • Do everything possible to mitigate the damages, such as calling a cleaning and restoration company to provide clean up services. Please our list of vendors for more information. The Office of Risk Management can provide assistance with this.
  • Obtain photographs of the damages.
  • Report the claim to our Claims Manager.

Tell us what you think from your own experience with storm preparation and mitigation. Submit your suggestions here.