As the leaves begin to change colors and the air becomes crisp, it’s time to begin preparing for fall. While the transition from summer into autumn may seem relatively mild compared to the shifting into other seasons, it presents unique challenges and risks.
One of the primary concerns during this time of year is the increased likelihood of severe weather events. Autumn often brings unpredictable storms, heavy rainfall and strong winds. These weather phenomena can lead to power outages, flooding and fallen trees that can disrupt daily life and cause damage to homes and infrastructure.
Additionally, the changing of the seasons can also indicate the transition from outdoor to indoor activities, which can introduce new safety hazards such as using fire to keep warm. Autumn is an ideal time to ensure that smoke detectors are functioning correctly and needed equipment is readily accessible.
Follow these tips to best stay prepared for the new season and hazards that demand our attention.
1 - Stormy Weather Ahead
Fall is a transitional season, bringing unpredictable weather patterns that can lead to disasters such as floods, hurricanes and other heavy storms. Keep an eye on weather forecasts using the FEMA App and make a kit stocked with essentials like flashlights, batteries and non-perishable food.
You never know when stormy weather is ahead so the best time to prepare is now.
2 - Holiday Fire Safety
Along with cooler temperatures and cozy evenings, autumn also brings the holiday season. Decorating for the holidays bring some risks. If you’re using candles for decorative pieces or jack-o-lanterns, keep a watchful eye and never leave a room with a lit candle. You should also keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.
If you decide to use lights, such as outdoor lights, be sure to inspect your lights for any damage, follow proper installation guidelines and use weather-resistant materials. Faulty connections and damaged/exposed wires can create a fire hazard.
While the temperature is cooler this time of the year, it’s also important to remember that this is the season when fire hazards increase. Dry leaves and fallen branches make for perfect fuel for wildfires. Make sure your property is clear of combustible materials and always exercise caution when using fireplaces or space heaters. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and ensure your smoke detectors are in good working order.
Visit usfa.fema.gov to learn more tips about preventing fires throughout the fall season.
3 - Early Snowstorms
In colder regions, early snowstorms can strike and cause transportation disruptions and power outages. To be prepared for early snowstorms, it’s crucial to take several precautions.
First, ensure your emergency kit is ready with warm clothing, blankets, non-perishable food and a hand-cranked/battery powered radio. Second, make sure your vehicle is winter-ready with snow-tires or chains, antifreeze and your vehicle has a mobile emergency kit that can cover your needs if you get stranded. Lastly, stock up on essentials and medications, as snowstorms can disrupt access to stores and services.
4 - Communicate and Practice Your Plan
Communicating and practicing your disaster plan ensures those in your network are well-prepared to respond effectively in a crisis. After you have created a disaster plan, communicate it with your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors to keep everyone informed on where you are or where you will go if a disaster strikes.
It is also important to practice your plan. Practicing your plan will familiarize your network with the necessary actions and may also help identify a weak spot that may not be spotted otherwise.
Autumn reminds us that nature is both breathtaking and unpredictable. Staying prepared for disasters during the season is a necessity. By taking proactive steps to mitigate the seasonal hazards, we can enjoy the beauty of the fall while also enjoying our safety. Let’s embrace the season’s lessons and remember that staying prepared is as essential as sipping hot cider and stepping on fallen leaves