Get Ready for Monsoon Season in Arizona and New Mexico

FEMA-Flash-Flood_13860Summer’s rising temperatures mean increased risks from the start of monsoon season in Arizona and New Mexico. June 9-14 is Monsoon Safety Awareness Week in those states and residents are reminded that these severe storms are accompanied by dangerous lightning, gusty winds, and flash flooding – the leading cause of deaths due to thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service .

The monsoon season begins June 15 and continues through September 30. This season includes periods of extreme, potentially deadly heat followed by daily rounds of often severe thunderstorms.  In Arizona and New Mexico, lightning strikes, high winds, wildfires, tornadoes, flash flooding and extreme heat have caused an average of 10 deaths and 60 injuries along with tens of millions of dollars of damage each year since 1995, the National Climatic Data Center reports.   

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) joins with the National Weather Service to offer this guidance to reduce your risk of injury and property damage during monsoon season:

Flash Floods: Turn Around, Don’t Drown
•    Most flash flood deaths occur in vehicles
•    Moving water 1-2 feet deep will carry away most vehicles
•    Keep children away from creeks and washes when heavy rain is in the area
•    Be especially careful at night when water depth and road conditions are harder to see

High Winds: Seek Shelter
•    Thunderstorms frequently produce strong downward rushes of air, called microbursts
•    These winds can gust in excess of 100 mph, and cause extensive property damage
•    Downbursts may generate areas of dense blowing dust
•    If downbursts approach move inside a sturdy building and stay away from windows

Lightning: Go Inside
•    No place outside is safe from lightning during a thunderstorm
•    Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from a storm
•    If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you
•    Move inside a strong building or an enclosed hardtop vehicle
•    Avoid contacting inside wiring and plumbing during a thunderstorm; this includes appliances and corded phones
•    Stay in shelter for 30 minutes after the last thunder

Thunderstorms and Dust Storms: Stay Off the Roads
•    Thunderstorms frequently produce strong downward rushes of air, called microbursts that spread out along the ground that spread dense blowing dust or haboobs
•    DO NOT drive in a dust storm
•    If you do get caught up in a dust storm while driving, avoid running into another vehicle and make your vehicle less likely to be hit:
•    Pull off the road and put the vehicle in park
•    Turn off the lights
•    Take your foot off the brake pedal

Flooding: Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance

During monsoon season, many residents also face the risk of uncovered losses due to property damage because they don’t have flood insurance, according to the Arizona Insurance Council.  Be proactive. Even if you live in an area that is deemed low-risk for flooding or outside the proximity of a large body of water, remember that heavy rains can trigger a flood. If you don’t have flood insurance or adequate coverage, it could be costly to replace water-damaged appliances or clean up a flooded home.  

Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. If you’re not in the National Flood Insurance Program, you do not have insurance for flood damage. Visit www.floodsmart.gov to find flood insurance coverage that meets your needs. Then evaluate your flood risk using a checklist offered by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

Lastly, learn how you can recover faster after a flood with IBHS resources at www.disastersafety.org/flood.

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