From now through the summer months, thunderstorms can quickly roll in and tornadoes can touch down, most often during the afternoon and evening hours, according to researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s severe storms laboratory.
Follow these tips to keep you and your home safe when tornadoes and severe thunderstorms come your way.
Remove diseased and damaged tree limbs before storm season begins.
Listen to local news or National Weather Service broadcasts to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
If you are in a mobile home, immediately head to a sturdy shelter. Mobile homes, especially hallways and bathrooms, are not safe places to take shelter during tornadoes or other severe winds.
Designate a family meeting place for shelter during and after a storm. If possible, go to your home’s basement, a small interior room or under stairs on the lowest level. Have a battery-operated weather radio handy along with emergency supplies.
Unplug electronics. Avoid using electrical equipment and corded telephones while lightning is in the area.
Remember that there is no safe place outside during a severe storm. If you are caught in a storm while driving, switch on your headlights, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle with your seat belt on, and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. If thunder and lightning are occurring, avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
As a storm moves in, move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that the wind can turn into a projectile.
Stay safe after a storm. Remain indoors at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder. Stay well away from downed power lines and avoid flooded areas. Power lines could be submerged and still live with electricity.
Be prepared for inclement weather before it happens. If you don’t have an emergency kit already, now is the time to make one. Include the following items in your kit, and keep it stocked, up to date, and in a designated spot that is easily accessible at all times.
- bottled water
- nonperishable food
- first-aid supplies
- medications (over-the-counter and prescription)
- pet supplies
- battery banks for charging devices
- all-weather radio
- multipurpose tool
- air-activated heat packs
- hand sanitizer
- a list of important numbers, including your SBEC account number, and SBEC’s outage reporting and emergency line, 800-364-3171.
Sign up for SMS alerts
SBEC now offers a one-way text alert service. Sign up today to receive these messages from SBEC during an emergency, including prolonged power interruptions and mandated rolling outages. Add your mobile phone number to TextPower by texting SBEC to 85700. For Full instructions, please visit us on the Reporting an Outage page.
We will also be updating information on our social media, through our email list from San Bernard Electric Cooperative, and on our website. You can follow us on Facebook here.
If temperatures drop and forecasts begin to show cold weather or a wintry mix, you may want to have these items ready and on-hand, in addition to your emergency kit.
- Charged cell phone and extra cords for charging phones, tablets, and other electronic devices
- Additional firewood
- Coats, hats, gloves, and warm clothing
- An additional heating source
- Your SBEC account number (keep this handy)
- Extra fuel for vehicles
Prepare your home
- Insulate external water lines on your water heater to help keep your pipes warm and save money on heating water. Remove and store garden hoses and cover exposed water lines and spigots.
- Falling, icy tree branches are a common cause of property damage and power outages. Trim any trees that are close enough to damage your home. Contact SBEC at 800-364-3171 for any trees that come within 10 feet of the power lines. NEVER trim trees that are close to a power line.
- Check the weather-stripping on your windows and doors, and seal leaks with caulk or replacement stripping. Addressing air leaks may save you up to 20% on your heating bill!
- Check the HVAC filter at least once a month and replace it when it is dirty.
- Have a certified technician perform maintenance on your system to ensure it is running efficiently.
- Develop a plan with your family in case of prolonged outages (where and when to seek shelter if needed).
Report and track outages
- Our updated outage map allows members to search in real time for their address to see if their outage is registered, the status, and the estimated time of restoration if one is available. Report and track your outage on our outage map.
- Monitor SBEC communications for potential energy conservation alerts and follow guidance when you are able. We’ll provide updates whenever possible on our website and social media channels including:
Protect your home
- Keep your faucets on a slow drip to keep pipes from freezing. Catch the dripping water in a clean container, sink, or tub to use if your water system is impacted. If your pipes freeze, turn off the main water supply to prevent further damage.
- Pick the lowest temperature you’re comfortable with and set your thermostat there — 68 degrees or lower is recommended. When you’re not home, keep your thermostat set at 60 degrees.
- Keep drapes and blinds closed, except when windows are in direct sunlight.
- Close doors to unoccupied rooms to help warm your home faster.
- If you experience an outage, keep lights and appliances off to avoid overloading circuits when power is restored. Instead, leave only one light on as a signal, so that you know when your power returns.
- If you have an additional heating source, like a fireplace, be sure that it’s clean and working properly before using it.
Remember these important winter storm safety tips:
- Don’t use your stove or oven for heat. Gas stoves and ovens produce carbon monoxide, and electric ones pose a fire risk when not used as designed.
- Don’t run your car in the garage as a way of warming up. Only run the car outside, and before you start it, make sure that the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and debris. Taking these steps could save you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Never run a generator closer than 20 feet from doors and windows to prevent fumes from entering the home.
Protect your family
- Watch weather reports closely. Keep your all-weather radio nearby and listen to local media reports for the most up-to-date weather and safety information.
- Keep a close watch on the temperature in your home and check it often. If outages are prolonged, consider staying with friends, family, or in a local shelter.
- Remember these important safety tips when using your generator and always practice safety when using alternative heat sources.
- Bring pets inside your home, and provide blankets, shelter, and water for livestock.
- If you are able, check on elderly relatives, neighbors, and friends to make sure they’re safe, especially if they live alone.
Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service’s Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)
American Red Cross
National Weather Service