Home owners tend to worry about the damage that extreme weather can cause to their home. They assume that there's something special and horrifying about natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, but the damage caused by these events is primarily caused by wind, and high winds can occur anywhere at any time, summer or winter, in a coastal area or an inland one. Here are some things you should know about heavy winds.

In an area where damaging winds have been known to occur (such as in Tornado Alley) you should have a plan for where you and your family will seek shelter in the event of violent winds. Basements are ideal, as are interior bathrooms. If you don't have a basement, you may want to dig a shelter. The important thing about a shelter, whether it's in the parking garage of a complex or in a backyard shed, is that there are no windows that can send glass flying around the room.

When high winds are expected, such as in the case of a forecasted hurricane, you can take steps to protect not just your person but also your property. Park your car inside the garage to keep you from having to take it in to replace all the windows and remove the dents. Board up or shutter your windows to protect the glass, and make sure all loose objects in your yard, such as tools and toys, are stowed inside so they cannot be turned into projectiles.

If high winds occur, the best thing that you can do is to avoid moving around. When people are injured by extreme weather, it's usually because they have been struck by a flying object while out of doors. In high winds, signs, garbage, fence posts, and even cars can all become dangerous missiles. If you are away from home when high winds occur, take shelter in the nearest building or lie in a ditch with your arms over your head to stay out of the way of objects.

After a wind storm, there may be significant damage, so it's not a good idea to immediately run out to the veterinarian clinic unless your pet is dying. There could be downed power lines, fallen trees, and collapsed porches, sheds, and houses that could injure or kill you if you are not careful. Wait until the authorities tell you it is safe to go outside.

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