Editorial: Keep heads-up in stormy weather
Mother Nature can gently spread her beauty or throw some nasty tricks at earth’s inhabitants.
—In a home or building, avoid windows. Move to a basement and get under a sturdy table or the stairs. A specially-constructed “safe room” within a building offers the best protection. Use an internet search engine and search for “safe room” for more information.
—If a basement isn’t available, move to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and cover up with towels, blankets or pillows. If possible, get under a sturdy table, desk or counter. Put as many walls as possible between oneself and the storm.
—If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If unable to quickly walk to a shelter, get into a vehicle, buckle the seatbelt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park. Now, there are two options as a last resort—stay in the vehicle with the seatbelt on and place the head below the windows or, if it’s possible to safely get noticeably lower than the roadway, exit the vehicle and lie in that area, covering head with hands. Don’t seek shelter under an overpass.
—Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes. Leave a mobile home and go to the designated storm shelter or the lowest floor of a nearby sturdy building.
—At school, follow the drill. Go to the interior hall or room. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of the head with the arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
Here are some safety tips for before the storm:
—Develop a plan for the family for home, work, school and outdoors. Know the safest shelter areas in multiple locations.
—Have frequent drills.
—Keep a disaster supply kit in the home, including water, food that won’t spoil and needs no heat to serve, first-aid kit, NOAA weather radio (also known as emergency weather radio), a flashlight and special items for children, pets and elderly family members.
—Go to http://readywisconsin.wi.gov for more information.
Xcel Energy has shared information about restoring power after a storm. The company’s goal is to restore power quickly and safely. Customers should make sure Xcel knows their power is out. To report an outage or receive outage information or restoration estimates, customers should call Xcel’s outage line, 1-800-895-1999, and follow the phone prompts.
Especially during weather-related outages, damage can be widespread and repairs may be complex. In restoring power after a storm, Xcel gives top priority to situations threatening public safety, such as live, downed wires. The remaining work initially is prioritized based on what will restore power to the largest number of customers most quickly.
After crews have re-energized the major lines, they can more effectively track down causes of outages along the lower-voltage distribution lines. This method of restoration allows crews to safely work on the distribution system.
Meantime, flooding has the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) urging state residents to be leery of promises made by fly-by-night contractors. DATCP offers these tips for homeowners with storm damage:
—Be wary of any contractor who knocks at the door. Call the police or sheriff’s department to check them out.
—Hire a contractor based on referrals. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations and ask contractors for references. Before signing a contract, contact Wisconsin’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to see if they have received complaints about the business.
—Try to get a local contractor. Ask contractors if they are subcontracting the job. Be careful if local contractors are using outside subcontractors.
—Get lien waivers from anyone being paid for home repairs. It’s necessary to do this because, if the person collecting the money doesn’t pay the supplier or worker, a lien could be put on the property.
—Get a written contract with a start and completion date, and warranty information. Also, make certain the contract states exactly what work is to be done and what materials are to be used. Never rely on verbal commitment.
—Contractors registering with the state are issued a card. Make sure any contractor being considered for hire shows their state registration card.
—Have someone watch the work being done. Check with a local building inspector to see if the work requires a permit and make sure an inspector visits the job site before providing final payment.
—Request a copy of the contractor’s certificate of liability insurance.