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Preparation key to surviving monsoon season

When I moved to Southern Nevada and heard the term “monsoon season,” I was confused. Monsoons in the desert? I thought they were tropical/coastal storms that ravaged countries on the other side of the planet, like in southern Asia.

While that’s indeed true, I was misinformed on two counts. Not only do monsoons also hit the Southwest U.S. and northwest Mexico, a monsoon isn’t even a storm. It’s a large-scale seasonal weather pattern that involves a wind shift, usually bringing violent weather.

Lasting from July to September, monsoon season puts on quite the show. My sweetheart and I have enjoyed watching the storms from our patio. It wasn’t until a lightning strike hit so close — a deafening crack turning everything around us white — that we realized we were nuts to be outside and high-tailed it into the house.

That literally hair-raising experience inspired me to put together a list of monsoon safety and readiness tips we could all use around the home this time of year.

Indoor readiness

■ Keep flashlights, candles, matches and lighters in strategic places around the house.

■ Keep fresh batteries on hand; store them in a cool, dry place.

■ Have a three-day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food supplies. (One gallon per person/per day is a rule of thumb).

■ Have a reliable emergency radio in your home, one that supports multiple power sources including a manual one, like a handcrank.

■ Keep a portable USB power-pack charged for use at any time.

Outdoor readiness

■ Prune and thin trees around your house. Flying branches, falling boughs or trees can damage property and life. Also, dried/dead trees will light up like a Roman candle should they be struck by lighting.

■ Have your roof inspected by a reputable roofing company. Finding weak spots or cracks before a storm hits can save you thousands of dollars.

■ In the event of electrical surges or power problems, have an electrician install a whole-house surge protector at your electric panel or use surge protector power strips with appliances and electronic equipment.

Before the storm hits

■ Batten down the hatches around the exterior of your home. Secure anything that can fly/fall in high wind. Remember, even heavier objects, like a barbecue, can blow over.

■ Unplug sensitive and expensive electronic devises. No surge protector will protect equipment if your home is hit by lightning.

During the storm

■ When thunder roars, go indoors. There’s no place safe outside during a lighting storm.

■ Wait to use household water, anything plumbing related, until after the storm has passed. Metal plumbing pipes and water conduct electricity and create a risk of current jumping to you should lightning strike near your home.

Power outage do’s and don’ts

■ Don’t open the fridge/freezer; keeping it shut will maintain the temperature longer.

■ Don’t walk around in the dark. Do keep a flashlight with you at all times.

■ Don’t waste battery life on nonessentials.

■ Do have battery-operated portable personal fans to help cool you off.

■ Do keep a fun board game on hand to pass the time.

Not home-related, but certainly worth mentioning, flash-flooding while one is driving or walking is nothing to take lightly. Even 6 inches of rushing water can knock over an adult, and 12 inches can carry off a small car. Remember, don’t drown; turn around.

A seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally spent four seasons as host of Discovery Home Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Toolbelt Diva. A columnist and author, Vally splits her time among Southern Nevada, Los Angeles and New York City. Follow her on Facebook at Norma Vally “Toolbelt Diva” and visit her at www.NormaVally.com. Email Norma@NormaVally.com.

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