Home & Garden

Tips for weathering summer storms

Getty Images/iStockphoto

I must admit, this summer I have been focused on vacation, water sports, cookouts and gardening. I totally forgot the season also brings with it summer storms.

Each year storms in the Southeast are responsible for millions of dollars in property damage. For instance, my neighbor’s garage was severely damaged by a tree that fell during a thunderstorm two weeks ago.

During that same storm, my lights were out for almost 12 hours — along with many other Macon-Bibb residents. It immediately caused me and my family to adjust our lifestyles during that time.

Experts like the American Red Cross encourage families to have emergency kits. They suggest including a variety of items such as bottled water, non-perishable food, an extra cell phone, first aid kit and medications.

Macon-Bibb Cooperative Extension would also like you to consider the following tips for keeping your family safe during storm season.

▪ Have batteries and flashlights on hand. Batteries are essential for flashlights, weather radios and some lanterns in case there is a power outage. Know where these items are located.

During the storm, my family found no less than four flashlights. I’m sorry to say only one had working batteries. Thank goodness my husband knew where our batteries were. The batteries we used are currently restocked and the flashlights are out of reach of little hands.

▪ Experts say you should move to an interior room with no windows in the event of a tornado. Prior to a storm, identify the room or area and make sure it’s easily accessible in an emergency situation. In our home, an interior linen closet is our safe shelter. The bedding and other items stored there easily can be moved out in case of emergency.

▪ Keep refrigerators and freezers closed. Storms go hand-in-hand with power outages, and if you’re like me, the freezer and refrigerator stay stocked. Limit opening and closing refrigerators and freezers to keep them cold for a longer period of time. A closed refrigerator will remain cold for up to four hours and a closed freezer up to 48 hours.

It is important to note you should inspect each item prior to consuming it after a power outage. You will be looking for discoloration, ice crystals on frozen items and odor.

▪ Stay informed. Use a weather radio, a local weather app or sign up for email notifications to receive current information. Remember, part of being prepared is being knowledgeable about what to expect.

The Macon-Bibb Emergency Management Agency Facebook page is an excellent source for information. Check them out at facebook.com/MaconBibbEMA.

▪ Unplug electronic devices to prevent power surges. Power strips and surge protectors are great for preventing power surges. And you’ll save time because you’ll only have to unplug one device (the power strip). To prevent an internal power surge, do not plug everything back in at once.

▪ Make sure you have your homeowners’ insurance company’s contact information and your policy number handy. I have my homeowners insurance company listed as a contact in my cell phone.

My neighbor had no lights for three days as well as a damaged garage. Having immediate access to phone numbers makes the experience less stressful.

When it is safe to do so, take pictures of any damage. Documentation is very important when filing insurance claims.

Be safe, Middle Georgia!

Contact county Extension agent Keishon J. Thomas at 478-751-6338 or thomaskj@uga.edu.