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March comes in like a lion

This past weekend, while completing my March Home Matters, I was interrupted by a CRASH, BOOM from the backyard.

I had heard the winds howling all morning and knew something big went flying. Sure enough, our barbecue was blown over, face down. Plus, the propane tank came loose from the storage cabinet beneath the grill. At that point I didn’t know if the propane hose broke loose, but I didn’t smell or hear gas leaking. The winds were ferocious. Fighting the gusts, I secured the barbecue as best as I could. I saw the control knobs and lid handle had been scratched and dented. Perhaps the burner tubes were dented as well. Darn it, it was only a 2-year-old Weber that might be damaged beyond repair.

I quickly assessed the yard: two ceramic planters had blown over (one broke), cushions were strewn everywhere, a knocked-over wrought-iron chair broke branches of a rose bush, several large palm-tree fronds blew down, some hitting my car, and our garbage pails were blowing down the alley.

While I counted my blessings the barbecue didn’t crush one of my small dogs when it blew over, or who knows what else, I was angry at myself. For days I had heard on the news about high winds coming …days that I could have done something to secure my yard. And yet there I was, unprepared and overwhelmed. What’s worse, I knew better.

With our region’s frequency of high winds and summer monsoons, I’ve decided to postpone my previously scheduled article and create a refresher piece on high-wind readiness. Here are a few steps to follow so the next time high winds start threatening, we’re ready.

1. Inspect and Assess — Go around your home and see what’s loose, broken, and vulnerable in wind. Things like loose fence boards and roof shingles—fix or secure them, even if temporarily, so they don’t break off and fly around. Loose and large branches near your home or power line should be cut down. Dead trees should be removed. Check the four weak spots of your home: roof, windows, doors, and garage door. Make sure they are in good condition, and close and lock properly.

2. Baton Down the Hatches — Secure or bring inside anything that can blow down, around or is fragile in high winds. Turn off sprinklers and fountains—besides overspray, fountains running low on water will damage the pump. Keep doors and windows closed and locked. While there’s an age-old theory that leaving windows or doors open in a storm will allow the wind to cleanly pass through, creating less structural damage, it is NOT TRUE. Research has proven that opening windows or doors in severe wind creates an upward pressure, and the buildup of that pressure could break apart or even blow off the roof.

3. Stay Indoors —According to the National Weather Service, the safest place to be during high winds is indoors, that goes for your pets too. Besides the risk of getting hit by flying objects, the air becomes filled with dust, pollutants, and debris. Check if Clark County’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) issues a dust advisory or visit AirNow.gov that reports air quality using the official U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI). Run your HVAC fan to circulate air through your home’s filter(s)—replace them if they’re dirty.

4. Stay Informed —Be sure to tune in to local weather forecasts and bulletins issued by the National Weather Service on the web, NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio or local TV and radio stations.

5. Have an Emergency Plan — Choose a safe place in your home away from windows. Make sure you have an emergency kit including flashlights (with extra batteries), a first-aid kit, charged portable power banks, blankets, medications, food supplies and water.

For more information on High Wind Safety Rules, including when driving, visit: www.weather.gov/mlb/seasonal_wind_rules

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