Actually, dust storms affect people right here in America every year. Anyone living in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or the Great Plains can tell you that dust storms are a reality of modern living, and they can be a significant problem for anyone caught unprepared. Dust and debris, as well as high winds and other issues, can make dust storms a serious problem.
Why are Dust Storms So Dangerous?Dust storms can be harmful to your home, cause traffic issues, and can also be dangerous to your overall health. Dust storms cause issues with a home, and it’s not just visual. While dust particles can make your house look dirty and unkempt, the dust can also harm appliances and equipment. Anyone driving through a large dust storm may have trouble with visibility, and traffic collisions are a common threat when dust is dense.
The most significant threat, however, could be to human health, especially for people who suffer from respiratory issues. During a dust storm, tiny particles of dust become airborne and can be inhaled. Regardless of someone’s physical condition, inhaling dust creates a wide range of issues.
However, if you have asthma, allergies, or COPD, the dust can be particularly aggravating. Dust can also get into your eyes, creating significant irritation.
Fortunately, there are ways to protect your home and your health during dust storm season...
Regular PreparationYou can’t always be there when a storm comes along but taking these preventative steps will help keep a home safe and reduce the chances of harm to your property.
Trim Your TreesOne of the most common threats that people face during a storm of any type, including dust storms, is from falling trees and branches. A heavy branch can create damage to property, including cars and the home, but more importantly, it can cause significant injury. Maintaining trees is something you should do throughout the year, but it is particularly crucial during the storm season.
Dust storms come on quickly and usually strike with little to no notice, so you won’t have time to trim a large dead branch just before a storm hits. Instead, take an afternoon every year to trim branches and keep the trees on your property healthy, especially the ones near your house, driveway, and storage buildings. If you are concerned about the safety of your tree, have a professional look at the tree and cut branches if needed. Generally speaking, if your trees look healthy, they will be ready to weather the heavy winds of a dust storm.
Keep the Roof in Good ShapeThe high winds from dust storms can be particularly damaging to your home, and if you have shingles that are loose or starting to peel, they can quickly be removed by the extreme wind. Make sure your roof is in tip-top shape and you’ll be less likely to need repairs after a major wind storm. Regularly inspect the windows and replace any shingles that look worn. Again, if you’re not sure whether you can handle this task, have a professional do it for you.
How to Protect your Home During a Dust Storm: When a Storm is ComingWhen a storm is on its way, you’re going to need to make significant preparations to ensure you get through it safely.
Put Away Umbrellas and Other Potential HazardsWhen a storm is coming, it’s time to act fast and prepare for the worst. Outside your home, there are likely a lot of items that could become wind-blown debris, and anything that could be picked up by the wind should be safely stored away in the home, a garage, or in a shed. Dismantle all patio umbrellas, put away furniture, bring any child toys inside, and be sure that cloth canopies are properly secured. As a precautionary measure, don’t leave umbrellas laying out during the storm season while you’re away. If a storm comes while you’re at work, the umbrella could be destroyed or become a hazard.
Furthermore, there is a risk of lightning during a dust storm. An umbrella or other tall metal items could serve as a lightning rod.
Keep Windows and Doors Shut During StormWhen a dust storm is coming, you need to make sure all windows and doors are shut tightly so the strong breeze is not able to enter your home. If a window or door is left open, the high winds can enter the home and could knock over lamps, make a mess of papers, and create a mess in the house. It will also allow dust particles to enter into the home, reducing air quality and creating a problem with indoor air pollution.
During the dust-storm season in many areas, most people have their windows closed and run the A/C already because the weather is unbearably hot. However, when a storm is about to blow through, take the time to check every room in the house to verify that all windows are properly sealed. This will keep your home clear or dust particles and provide respiratory protection by ensuring there is less fine dust in the home.
Turn Off the A/CWeather monitoring show most dust storms in the United States strike when the summer heat is at its highest. This means most people have their air conditioners running when a storm comes along, but to ensure that dirt does not get pulled into the house, it’s best to shut it off for the duration of the storm. When the air conditioner is running, it can suck fine dust into the unit and eventually pump that dust into the living space of your home. This can not only damage the unit, but could fill your home with air pollution, creating a potentially harmful situation for anyone with asthma or dust allergies.
Storms can also cause power outages, which can damage the A/C’s compressor and create electrical problems in the home. If your power is out during a dust storm, it’s best to leave it off until the power comes back, then turn it on. With this step, you can help the air conditioning unit will work properly for years.
After the StormAfter a dust storm blows through, you should take a few steps to clean fine dust and dust particles from around your home, ensuring that any remaining dust can’t cause issues in the future.
Clean and Maintain Your Air ConditionerAs we discussed, dust storms can impact your air conditioning unit. While air conditioners operate as sealed systems, it is possible for excessive dust to harm the unit and possibly find its way into the vents. Therefore, if you live in an area with dust storms you need to clean and maintain the A/C regularly; more so than people in other areas.
Your unit will likely be able to handle a dust storm, but after a storm rolls through, wash the exterior of the unit with water. Make sure the power is turned off, then rinse the unit thoroughly with a hose, washing away any dust that may have settled on the appliance.
You should also check the ducts for loose connections or dust, inspect the condensation line, and vacuum the evaporator coil if you can access it. (The evaporator coil is often buried in the unit.) With these measures, the A/C should work properly for much longer.
Increase Ventilation To Help Remove Airborne DustHaving quality indoor ventilation can help remove dust and debris from the home. Fans and vents can be useful for keeping air moving, which will keep dust from settling in the home. Good ventilation in the living space and in the attic can help the overall air quality in your home, giving you better comfort and helping you avoid indoor pollution that could trigger asthma or allergies.
Use an Indoor Air PurifierIf you have increased the ventilation in your home, you are now in good shape to capture some of that moving airborne dust with an air purifier. Air purifiers come in a wide variety of styles, sizes, and shapes, and you can find many different technologies, including UV light and activated carbon. For combatting indoor dust and providing respiratory protection, however, a high efficiency air filter will do the trick.
Oransi has a wide range of air purifiers that can help with indoor dust. When placed in the right area, these units will capture some of the most microscopic particles, removing them from the air. Air purifiers are an important household appliance for anyone living in areas that are hit by dust storms, and they consistently work to keep your home free of fine dust.
Preparing Your VehicleYou never know when a dust storm could strike. In order to stay protected, keep a preparation kit in your car so you have the supplies you need at a moment’s notice.
Keep a Dust Brush in the CarWhen a dust storm comes along, it can cause significant issues with your visibility. Sometimes a windshield wiper may not be able to remove the dust and dirt from your car, so keep a brush in your vehicle that you can use to clear your windshield. You may also need to pour some water on the windshield or use your wiper fluid to thoroughly clean the dust.
When a dust storm comes, pull over and turn off the vehicle. (Do not leave your lights on, as people may think you are on the road and try to drive behind you.) After it passes, open the hood and brush the engine cover, fan, and vents, as well as the radiator. (Be careful! If the car has been running, the engine and components may be hot.)
Pack an Emergency Survival KitIt never hurts to be prepared, and while having a small supply of food and water might seem excessive, you’ll be glad you have these supplies if dust, wind, or damage causes your car to breakdown. A couple of bottles of water, a few cereal bars, and a blanket is all you need to stay comfortable if you are forced to wait for help.
Another important part of your survival pack should be a flashlight. In case you get stuck in a dust storm during the night, having a flashlight will help you signal for help or walk to a shelter if needed. Be sure that the flashlight has fresh batteries and keep a few spares just to be safe.