Top tips for staying safe during windstorms

November 8, 2022 by PEMCO Insurance

Storms are coming. 

"Atmospheric rivers" bring downpours, damaging winds and power outages to the PNW every winter – and according to NASA, they’re becoming more common. While you can’t change Mother Nature’s mind, you can take simple steps to keep your home and family safe when winter weather does its worst. 

Here are the five most important things to do before, during and after a storm – and how PEMCO can help. 

What to do before a storm 

  1. Unplug sensitive electronics like computers and TVs that can be damaged in power surges. If your surge protectors are more than two years old, it’s time to replace them.  

  2. Check your supply of medication, baby formula and non-perishable food. Try to keep at least three or four days’ worth.  

  3. Park in the garage. That will protect your car from falling branches and unsecured items like garbage cans and patio furniture that can go airborne in high wind. 

  4. Fill your bathtub with water if you use an electric-powered well. You can dip buckets of water to flush toilets if the power goes out. Keep bottled water on hand for drinking and cooking. 

  5. Charge devices, replace flashlight batteries and fill up your car. While some gas stations have emergency power, others are unable to pump if the electricity is out. 

See our full list of what to do before a windstorm

What to do during a storm 

  1. Don’t drive. Every year, we receive tragic reports of drivers injured – or worse – when a tree crashes down on their car during heavy winds. If you have no choice, avoid wooded routes and treat dark stoplights as four-way stops.  

  2. Sleep on the ground floor. That’s safer than sleeping in a second-story bedroom in case a tree falls on your roof. If you live in a one-story home, sleep on the side of the house with the fewest trees or away from the direction of prevailing winds. 

  3. Stay away from downed power lines. Even if the power is out in your neighborhood, the line could be re-energized if part of the grid is restored. If a power line falls on your car, here’s advice from Puget Sound Energy on what to do. 

  4. Bring pets inside. If your pet gets nervous during the storm, try moving them to a room (like a basement or bathroom) that doesn’t have a window.  

What to do after a storm 

  1. Don’t try to repair anything until the storm has truly passed. Also, don’t attempt to salvage items if a tree has crashed through your roof, since the structure may be unstable.  

  2. Use caution with alternate heat sources. Carbon-monoxide poisoning claims the lives of people each year who, desperate to stay warm or cook when the power goes out, use propane heaters, camp stoves or barbecues indoors. If you have a generator, make sure it’s safely connected and not overloaded.  

  3. Get people and pets out if you smell natural gas or hear a hissing sound. If the smell is mild and limited to a small area, open doors and windows to help fumes dissipate before you go. Don’t turn lights on or off or use landline phones, which could cause a spark. Call 9-1-1 or your utility’s emergency line from outside the house. Here’s how to shut off the gas in an emergency. 

  4. Conserve your cell phone’s charge if the power is out. Switch to low-power mode and close unused apps. If you don’t need to make calls or send and receive messages, consider switching to airplane mode, which conserves even more. 

How can PEMCO help if my home is damaged? 

Damange to homes after windstorms and hail are the leading cause of homeowners claims.

Reach out for help as soon as you notice damage. You can report a claim to PEMCO 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling 1-800-GO-PEMCO or signing on to your online account. 

Even if a claims expert isn’t available on the spot, someone will contact you promptly to discuss your claim and even help you find emergency lodging if your home is unlivable because of the damage. We’re here to help, no matter what winter throws your way. 




How to handle winter weather conditions | PEMCO 


Get your home and car ready for winter | PEMCO 


How to prep for a disaster | PEMCO 

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