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 Email

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