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Severe Weather Preparation Tips

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LAWTON Okla_ Severe weather season is in full swing in Southwest Oklahoma, and there are several dangers involved in enduring thunderstorms and tornados. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the season.

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Thunderstorms are classified as severe when they produce hail at least 3/4 of an inch in diameter and winds over 58 MPH. While lightning is exciting to watch, it can be dangerous. About 300 people are injured and 80 are killed in the US every year as a result of lightning. High winds and hail can cause bodily harm and property damage as well.

Stay Alert

Though spring in the U.S. is usually the busiest season for severe thunderstorms, they can occur in any season throughout the year.

  • Warm, humid conditions offer the most favorable environment for thunderstorms to develop.
  • Most deaths and injuries from lightning happen to people who have been caught outdoors in a storm in the afternoon and evening during the summer months.
  • Though thunderstorms often bring heavy rainfall, lightning can occur far away from areas of heavy rain.
  • If a severe thunderstorm watch or warning has not been issued, that does not mean that a storm isn't dangerous. Thunderstorms that aren't designated "severe" still can be accompanied by lightning and hail.
  • When you hear thunder, think lightning, even if lightning is not visible where you are. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to a storm to be struck by lightning.

When Thunderstorms Are Likely

If you find yourself outdoors or in an area where thunderstorms are in the forecast or about to happen, follow these precautions:

  • Go indoors if you're outside. Hard-top cars offer shelter as well, but avoid convertibles.
  • "30-30" rule: After seeing lightning outside, go indoors if you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay inside for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

Prepare Your Family and Your Property

  • Remove dead or rotting trees that could fall on your house or property if struck by lightning.
  • Move inside your house or garage anything on your property that could become flying debris.
  • Unplug any appliances or electronic equipment.
  • Inventory all valuables in the home with pictures or video. Note the approximate value of each item and date of purchase.
  • Make sure important documents, such as an insurance policy or mortgage papers, are stored in a safe-deposit or safe box.
  • Read and understand your insurance policy, especially disclosures.
  • Examine your homeowners' coverage, as well as auto policies.
  • Be sure you have adequate coverage and deductibles reasonable for your needs.
  • If you have expensive or specialty items (e.g. jewelry, furs, silverware, cameras, collectibles, etc.), speak with your agent about broader coverage, as limits do apply under a homeowners' policy.
  • Sign up for The Weather Channel's severe weather mobile alerts.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for important updates.
  • Consider buying a whole-house surge protector. Whole-house surge protection can protect against lightning strikes or damaged power lines that could cause a fire.
  • Protect mementos in waterproof containers and/or take the items with you if you evacuate.
  • Take care of your pets. Doghouses aren't lightning-safe, and dogs that are tied to trees or other tall objects can also be hit by lightning.
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