Monsoon season always brings a respite from the fiery heat of summer. Beginning June 15th and stretching until September 30th, Arizona’s monsoon season can bring blinding dust storms, torrential rains, and storms complete with claps of thunder and lightning flashes. These storms, as most Arizonans are familiar with, often strike suddenly and with violent force. To help you stay safe this monsoon season, consider these tips.
Do: Check Your Garage Door
The durability of your garage door is vital. Not taking your garage door’s wind resistance into consideration could spell big trouble. If shopping for a new garage door, consider the door’s ability to withstand various wind speeds. If the garage door or garage door opener is malfunctioning or damaged, contact a garage door repair professional to service it.
Do: Make Room in the Garage
If you haven’t already done so, now is the perfect time to clear out that over-stuffed garage, making room for your vehicles. Parking your car in the garage provides much needed peace-of-mind during a storm. This also allows you the opportunity to get any personal belongings off the floor, out of cardboard boxes and stored safely on shelving units so should any water penetrate the garage, they’re protected.
Do: Secure Outdoor Furniture
Loose items in your yard can become flying projectiles during monsoon season due to high winds. Take care to move any unsecured items, such as patio furniture, bird feeders, wind chimes, hanging or container plants, toys, and grills inside your house or garage if possible. If you can’t bring them in, use a chain or rope to secure them.
Do: Comfort Pets
During the monsoon, claps of thunder and flashes of lightning can strike terror in the best of us, but more so in your pet; even if he/she is normally calm. Veterinarians call this “storm anxiety” or “noise phobia.” This fear can manifest itself in a variety of challenging behaviors – hiding, whining or, if outdoors running away in a state of panic.
To help your dog cope, provide a safe area, like a crate (keep the door open so not to make him/her feel trapped) to create the feeling of a safe haven. You can also play calming music or distract your dog with treats and familiar games. The absolute best thing you can do, however, is to just stay with him/her until the storm passes.
Don’t: Drive Through Flood Water
One of the main hazards associated with the monsoon is flooding. Rainfall during this time is typically heavy, and because it doesn’t soak into the ground, it often results in copious runoff into our normally dry desert washes. It is extremely difficult to estimate the depth of running water or the strength of a current.
As reported by the National Weather Service, it takes only 6 inches of fast-moving water to sweep an adult off his feet, and 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car. 2 feet of rushing water can wash most any vehicle off the road. If that’s not enough to deter you, Arizona’s Stupid Motorist Law makes you responsible for the cost of the rescue as well as a fine.
Don’t: Speed on Wet Roads
Whether driving in a downpour or on wet roads, slow down and allow more time to get to your destination. Avoid using cruise control. This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of your vehicle is magnified. Also, it’s important to increase the following distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you, ensuring ample stopping time. If caught in a blinding dust storm, you should:
- Safely pull off the road
- Put your vehicle in park, and turn the engine off
- Make sure to turn off all lights, including tail and break lights
- Most dust storms are short lived, so it’s important to wait it out until it’s safe to drive
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