Safety Tips for Severe Weather

A storm can be thrilling to watch, but knowing when to take action and seek shelter could save your life in the case of a severe storm. As we go through another storm season, keep these safety and awareness tips top of mind when bracing for severe weather. 

Understand Storm Alerts 

Weather services label storms with a “watch” or “warning” to describe the potential threat to an area. A “watch” means conditions could potentially lead to the development of a storm. A “warning” means a storm has already developed and has been spotted nearby. Most times, a warning warrants taking shelter immediately. 

When assigning watches and warnings, the National Weather Service typically uses county names to inform people of the location. This means that knowing the name of your county and surrounding counties will be helpful in identifying when a storm may be approaching your area. 

Prepare your Home 

There are many precautions you can take to protect and prepare your home for storm season. Consider the following preparations if a severe storm prediction is in your area and you have time: 

  • Identify your sheltering place. If you don’t have a storm shelter, take cover in an interior room with no windows that is on the ground level. 
  • Charge your phones and computers before the storm is near in case you lose power.
  • Bring the pets inside to ensure their safety.
  • Bring in any outdoor furniture that could be blown around or damaged. 
  • Close and shutter windows.
  • Unplug high-dollar appliances and computers in case of a power surge. 
  • Have an emergency plan and ensure all members of the household are aware of it. 

Stock up on Supplies

Make sure to have non-perishable emergency supplies, like batteries, first aid supplies, a flashlight, a portable weather radio and a three-day supply of water and food. While you’re stocking up on emergency supplies, it’s also beneficial to compile a grocery list of non-perishable food. One can never be sure of the extent of damage a storm may cause, so being prepared for the worst-case scenario is the best case. 

What to Avoid

Avoid using corded phones, electrical equipment, and even doing the dishes or taking a shower during a storm. Lightning can travel through lines, electrical systems and plumbing. According to the CDC, about one-third of injuries caused by a lightning strike happen indoors. Also, be sure to stay away from windows, doors and concrete walls or floors. Most are reinforced by metal bars or webbing, which could allow lightning to travel through. 

What to do During and After a Storm

As a storm is passing through, try to stay calm and alert. Make sure to take cover in your designated shelter if your area is under a warning. Be mindful that many facilities and hospitals will not be able to offer public shelter during severe weather at this time due to social distancing practices. Have a place in mind that you know you can access for safety. If your power goes out, use your phone or radio to listen for updates on the location and severity of the storm. 

After a storm passes, watch out for downed power lines, fallen tree branches and other debris that could be around. Once you’ve checked for damage and feel safe, be sure to check in on friends and loved ones that may have sustained damage as well. 

Preparing for storm season is the best thing you can do to ensure your safety. Talk to your agent to make sure your personal property is covered in the case of storm damage.

Develop an Emergency Plan for your Farm or Ranch

From severe weather to unexpected accidents, disaster can strike at any time. Having a plan in place for your farm or ranch during an emergency can help ensure your livelihood is protected, no matter the size of your operation. Follow these guidelines to make sure you’ve addressed the basics for your emergency preparedness plan.

Implement Emergency Routes and Farm Information

An escape plan is necessary to inform workers about how to evacuate the area, what the designated meeting place is and how to account for all people. It is also important to create and keep up-to-date a comprehensive map of the property that shows the locations of buildings, hazardous materials, large machinery, animal pens, electric sources, etc. You’ll want to have a way to receive emergency alerts and warnings in case of inclement weather or natural disasters. 

Create Call Lists

Create a call list that includes all emergency phone numbers. Include employees, neighboring farmers/ranchers, family members, veterinarians, local police/fire/EMT, and food/water resource providers for animals. Keep it posted and in your phone so you can use it in a moment’s notice. Ensure employees also have a copy of the list.  

Have an Evacuation Plan

It’s important to have an evacuation plan for livestock in the event of severe storms, floods or fires on the property. When moving livestock, make sure to plan for enough time to transport. Include food/water provisions for relocating large animals – you’ll want to aim for about a week’s supply of provisions to start with. If your animals will be sharing space with livestock from other farms or ranches, be sure they are up-to-date on vaccinations and are easily identifiable from other animals.

Create a Farm Safety Kit

A farm safety kit can be a huge help during an emergency. This is especially helpful if you or your workers are caught where it may take emergency responders longer to reach. In the kit, be sure to include the emergency call list (mentioned above), bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, cold packs and heating packs, bottles of water, snacks, flashlights, work gloves, protective eyewear, etc. Create and place several of these kits at various buildings/stations across the property. Be sure to clearly note the safety kit locations on the farm map, mentioned above. 

After outlining these key items, inform everyone who may be involved or impacted by the plans. Employees and family members should be aware of what they need to do in the case of an emergency. They also need the necessary items to act in a moment’s notice. Ensure your farm or ranch has protection it needs with a Farm & Ranch Insurance policy. Contact an agent today to see how much coverage you may need.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

As the weather warms and spring begins to bloom, you may catch the spring cleaning fever. Spring cleaning can help you feel accomplished and have a clean home. It can also help keep your home safe by taking care of small items that could cause major problems or be hazardous down the road. Consider this checklist while you’re cleaning up around the house this spring, to be sure it’s as safe as it is clean. 

Clean the Dryer Vent

While most people know to clean the lint trap after each load of laundry, the dryer vent often gets neglected. Lint can also build up in the hose from the dryer and dryer vent, which could be a fire hazard. Make sure to check for lint that accumulates in these forgotten areas and clear out any hazards. 

Replace Damaged Extension Cords 

Whether they’re under a rug receiving a lot of foot traffic or being yanked from one place to another, extension cords often get worn and damaged. These damaged cords can be a big fire risk. Consider replacing older cords around the house to reduce the risk of fire. 

Update Online Passwords 

As you deep clean your house this spring, it’s a good reminder to clean up other areas of your life as well, including online passwords. Take a few minutes to set up new, strong passwords for all your accounts. This will help prevent online accounts from being hacked and your identity from being stolen. 

Clean the Stove/Oven 

As food particles build up over time on the stovetop or in the oven, thoroughly cleaning both of these appliances is an important checklist item. Built up particles and/or grease can pose a fire hazard. No matter how frequently you cook, make sure to spend some extra time deep cleaning the stove and oven this spring. 

Change Air Filters

Make sure to clean and/or replace home air filters as the weather warms. The furnace will still be moving air through your home all year, and pollen, dust and other allergens that get built up in the filters can worsen seasonal allergies if you don’t change the filters.

Check Alarm Batteries

Smoke alarms help keep your home safe, but are often forgotten about if the alarms don’t go off frequently. Spring cleaning is a great time to check the status of alarms and put in new batteries. Also, wipe down the alarms to ensure dust isn’t inhibiting them from doing their job. We reward safety precautions and offer a discount for having a fire alarm in the home. Check with your agent to see if you may be eligible. 

Clean Bedding 

Most people wash their sheets and pillowcases often, but the mattress and pillows may be neglected in the process of cleaning the bedding on a regular basis. Take time to vacuum the mattress and rotate it so that it can wear evenly. Also, wash pillows in hot water to help get rid of dust mites. 

No matter how much you clean or prepare, accidents can still happen. Ensure your home and family are protected with a Home Insurance policy. Contact an OKFB agent for a customizable policy that fits your lifestyle.

Scheduling Car Maintenance by Mileage

When it comes to taking care of cars, scheduling maintenance by mileage is the simplest way to help ensure vehicles will run for years to come. Rather than wait for the engine light, planning for your car’s important milestones can prevent damage and prolong its lifespan. Pay attention to these mileage markers as queues for when to take action on aging or worn parts.

Maintenance every 5,000 miles

Get an oil change about every 5,000 miles and make sure to change the oil filter as well. Check the owner’s manual for the exact recommendation on type of oil to use and how often to change it, which can range from every 3,000 to 5,000 miles depending on age, make and model of the vehicle. 

Maintenance every 10,000 – 30,000 miles

Every 10,000 miles, rotate the tires on the car. If you continue this habit, you may get more use of your tires by prolonging the life of the tire tread. Around the 30,000 mile mark, change the filters in your vehicle. Replace both the air filter and the fuel filter as they can get clogged and cause harm to your engine. 

Maintenance every 40,000 – 50,000 miles

Most manufacturer’s warranties expire after 36,000 miles, so it’s important to take a look to ensure the systems typically covered under these warranties are working properly. This could include a checkup on heating and air conditioning systems, suspension and brakes around the 40,000 mile mark. 

Around 50,000 miles, it may be time to begin replacing any worn parts. The brakes may require a closer look at the pads, rotors and fluids to avoid faulty performance. Check in on how the battery in the vehicle is performing at 50,000 miles — it typically requires changing around this time as well. Closely monitor the transmission fluid near this mile marker as it will likely also need to be changed at this time. Low transmission fluid can cause problems with shifting gears and could burn up the transmission.

Maintenance every 60,000 miles

Once you reach the 60,000 mile mark, check in on various hoses, valves and belts for wear. It’s critical to replace these parts when worn, as they may cause trouble for the vehicle if left as is. Items such as power steering fluid, timing belts and the hoses that carry coolant through the car all fall into this category of maintenance. Additionally, it’s likely time to replace spark plugs and install new tires. 

Maintenance every 100,000+ miles 

At 100,000 miles, it’s likely time to add high mileage coolants and spark plugs to match this high mileage milestone. Make sure to schedule a thorough inspection of major parts such as the transmission, water pump and other components. Again, replace any worn parts that may show up in this inspection. 

Whether you’re driving a new or used vehicle, scheduling maintenance ahead of these major milestones can help contribute to smooth operations for your vehicle. A good auto policy can also help ensure your car is covered through the years. We offer customizable policies to make sure you have the right coverage for your vehicle’s age and wear. Contact an agent today to find a policy that fits your lifestyle.