Posted on 23 April 2010.
Lightning can provide a spectacular display of light on a dark night, but this awesome show of nature can also cause death and destruction. Lightning is the visible discharge of electrical energy. It is often accompanied by thunder, which is a sonic boom created by the same discharge. If you hear thunder, lightning is a threat, even if the storm seems miles away and the sky is blue. The electrical energy from lightning seeks a path to the ground – your home, the trees in your yard, or even you can be the chosen path!
1. Plan your evacuation and safety measures. At the first sign of lightning or thunder, activate your emergency plan. Lightning often precedes rain, so do not wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities. No place is absolutely safe from lightning; however, some places are much safer than others. The safest location during lightning activity is a large enclosed building. The second safest location is an enclosed metal topped vehicle, but NOT a convertible, bike, or other topless or soft top vehicle.
2. If outdoors, get inside a suitable shelter IMMEDIATELY! Your only safe choice is to get to a safe building or vehicle. If you enjoy outdoor activities and find yourself in a place where you cannot get to a safe vehicle or shelter, outdoor safety tips are available at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/outdoors.htm. Although these tips will not prevent you from being hit, they can HELP lessen the odds.
3. If indoors, avoid water, doors and windows, and using the telephone and headsets. Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools, and TVs. Lightning could strike exterior wires, inducing shocks to inside equipment.
4. Suspend activities for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.
5. Injured persons do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Apply First Aid procedures to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so. Call 911 or send for help immediately.
6. Know Your Emergency Telephone Numbers!
For additional information visit NOAA’s lightning safety web site: www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov
The following information, prepared by the Humane Society of the United States, will help you become better prepared to care for your pets in a disaster or emergency.
Don’t Forget Identification
Your pets should be wearing up-to-date identification at all times.
In addition to your phone, include the phone number of a friend or relative outside of your immediate area. If your pet is lost, you want to provide a number on the tag that will be answered even if you are away from your home.
Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time
Don’t wait until a disaster strikes to do your research.
Evacuation shelters do not generally accept pets, except for service animals, so plan ahead to ensure your family and pets will have a safe place to stay.
If you have more than one pet, you may have to prepare to board them separately. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals including 24-hour telephone numbers.
Ask your local animal shelter if it provides foster care or shelter for pets during an emergency. Shelters have limited resources so this should be your last resort.
Contact hotels and motels outside of your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask about any restrictions on number of animals, size and species, as well as whether a “no pet” policy would be waived during an emergency.
Make a list of pet-friendly places and keep it handy. Call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.
Check with friends, relatives or others outside of your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and/or your animals, if necessary.
If You Evacuate, Take Your Pets
The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets if you evacuate is to take them with you. If it’s not safe for you to stay in the disaster area, it’s not safe for your pets.
Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed.
Animals left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows.
Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents.
Do not leave your animals tied or chained outside during a disaster; this can be deadly.
If you leave, even if only for a few hours, take your animals. You have no way of knowing if you will be allowed back into the area.
Leave early; don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order. An unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long in order to leave safely with your pets.
In Case You’re Not Home
An evacuation order may come, or a disaster may strike, when you’re at work or out of the house. Make arrangements well in advance for a trusted neighbor to take your pets and meet you at a specified location.
If you arrange for someone to take your pets, be sure the person is comfortable with your pets, knows where your animals are likely to be, knows where your disaster supplies are kept and has a way to access your home.
If you use a pet sitting service, discuss the possibility of their assistance well in advance.