Health & Safety

July 27, 2012

Winds of Change

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By Staff Sgt. William Coleman
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — During recent weeks, strong winds have hit the Las Vegas Valley. The National Weather Service has reported sustained winds reaching 30 mph and wind gusts between 40-55 mph.

Winds of this magnitude have the potential to bring down trees, power lines and signs. They can turn unsecured objects into dangerous projectiles. Listed below are some tips to keep in mind during high wind warnings.

 

If you are caught outside during high winds:

  • Take cover next to a building or under a secure shelter
  • Stand clear of roadways or train tracks, as a gust may blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle
  • Use handrails where available, and avoid elevated areas such as roofs
  • Watch for flying debris. Tree limbs may break and street signs may come loose during strong winds

 

In the event of a downed power line:

  • Report downed lines to your local utility emergency center and to the police
  • Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches
  • If a line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Take care not to touch any part of the metal frame of your vehicle Honk your horn, roll down the window and warn anyone who may approach of the danger. Ask someone to call the police. Do not exit the car until help arrives, unless it catches fire. To exit, open the door, but do not step out. Jump, without touching any of the metal portions of the car’s exterior, to safe ground and get quickly away.

 

Lightning is another electrical hazard that can be present during strong winds. Lightning is the number two thunderstorm-related killer in the U.S. On average, it kills more people each year than do tornadoes and hurricanes.

 
Outdoor Safety: If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Look for shelter inside a home, large building, or a hard-topped vehicle right away. Do not go under tall trees for shelter. There is no place outside that is safe during a thunderstorm. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder before leaving your shelter.

Stay away from windows and doors.

If you are in or on open water, go to land and seek shelter immediately.

If you feel your hair stand on end, that means lightning is about to strike, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. Do not lie flat on the ground. This is a last resort when a building or hard-topped vehicle is not available.

If a person is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 and get medical care immediately. Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge; attend to them immediately. Check their breathing, heartbeat, and pulse. CPR may be needed.

 
Indoor Safety: Unplug appliances and other electrical items, like computers, and turn off air conditioners. If you are unable to unplug them, turn them off.

Stay off corded phones, computers, and other electronic equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity or plumbing.

Avoid washing your hands, bathing, doing laundry, or washing dishes.

For additional safety information pertaining to high wind warnings and lightning, contact the 99th Air Base Wing Safety office at 652-7602.




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