Dust storms are among nature's most violent and unpredictable phenomena. High winds lift dirt particles into the air, unleashing a turbulent, suffocating cloud of particulates and reducing visibility to almost nothing in a matter of seconds. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage, injuries, and deaths, and while they are most commonly associated with desert regions, they can occur in any arid or semi-arid climate. Dust storms are most common between May and September, although they have been known to occur at other times of the year. Here are some things you can do:
Before a Storm
- Close exterior doors and windows, and where possible seal other exterior openings.
- Turn off air-conditioning & heating systems to avoid drawing dust inside and clogging ducts, fans, blowers, filters and vents.
- Cover exterior heat pumps with a tightly fitting dust proof cover or tarp.
- Bring all exterior yard & patio furniture inside.
- Cover your pool and spa.
- Park vehicles in the garage.
- Take normal steps to prepare for a power outage.
- Monitor local news and weather channels for updates on direction & severity of the storm.
- If possible, avoid wearing contact lenses as even small amounts of airborne dust can cause eye irritation and vision problems. Wear eyeglasses.
During the Storm
- Take cover and stay put. Do not attempt to move about in a blinding storm, as you will not be able to see potential hazards in your path. Remain indoors or seek cover if outdoors.
- Remain hydrated - carry and drink plenty of fluids.
- Cover as much of your body as possible if caught outside, to protect yourself from flying sand.
- If you're in a vehicle, roll up the windows and turn off vents that bring outside air in.
- If you are driving, pull off the road (exit the freeway if possible), set your parking brake, turn OFF your headlights, and make sure brake lights and turn signals are also off. In many cases, if your exterior lights are on while pulled over, other drivers will be drawn to your taillights increasing the chance of a rear-end collision.
After the Storm
- Inspect & replace heating, ventilation and air-conditioning filters as necessary.
- Clean sand and dust off solar panels.
- If you were driving in the storm, have a mechanic inspect and clean your engine, radiator, headlights, wheel bearings and breaks.
- Inspect and where necessary unclog gutters, drains and downspouts.
This information is advisory in nature. No liability is assumed by reason of the information in this document.