Posted by: prepare4 | March 25, 2009

Surviving a Dust Storm

Surviving a Dust Storm
By Carolyn Nicolaysen

Dust storms may seem like an unlikely, even crazy topic to discuss outside of the

Arabian Desert. I assure you it is not. I joined Margie, my friend, and her parents on a road trip to Texas during my senior year in high school. We encountered a dust storm, and in all the years since I have never been so frightened by any weather-related emergency.

Being from

New Jersey we were very naive and had no idea what was coming toward us. It is no exaggeration to say that when it hit us, we could not see two inches in front of the windshield, no less the front of the car. Margie’s dad was a police officer and accustomed to emergencies, but this was a new one. Should we keep going? Should we pull off? If we pulled off the side of the road we were afraid to go too far because we didn’t know what was there. But then, if we didn’t go far enough we would be hit by traffic. We finally pulled off and sat huddled in the car — desperately trying to see anything besides dust — and we prayed. When the storm suddenly cleared — as suddenly as its arrival — we were only a few feet behind another car that had also pulled off. We were lucky.

Dust storms are among nature’s most violent and unpredictable phenomena, and they don’t just happen in the desert or on foreign continents. They happen in any dry region where loose dirt can easily be picked up. Particles of sand tossed into the air by high winds usually fall back down to the ground after a few hours. Smaller particles may remain in the air for a week or longer and can be blown thousands of miles away. Recently, dust from a storm in the

Gobi Desert region of China settled across Japan.

Storms vary widely in size and duration: most are quite small and last only a few minutes, while the largest can extend hundreds of miles, tower more than a mile into the sky, and last for many days.

The most severe dust storms do not occur in the

United States, but they do occur in many areas of the world. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage and injuries, or death. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of dust and sand racing toward you, especially if you plan to travel through desert or drought-stricken areas, are a backpacker, frequently travel cross-country, or will be traveling internationally.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Storms vary widely in size and duration: most are quite small and last only a few minutes, while the largest can extend hundreds of miles, tower more than a mile into the sky, and last for many days.

The most severe dust storms do not occur in the

United States, but they do occur in many areas of the world. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage and injuries, or death. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of dust and sand racing toward you, especially if you plan to travel through desert or drought-stricken areas, are a backpacker, frequently travel cross-country, or will be traveling internationally.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are among nature’s most violent and unpredictable phenomena, and they don’t just happen in the desert or on foreign continents. They happen in any dry region where loose dirt can easily be picked up. Particles of sand tossed into the air by high winds usually fall back down to the ground after a few hours. Smaller particles may remain in the air for a week or longer and can be blown thousands of miles away. Recently, dust from a storm in the

Gobi Desert region of China settled across Japan.

Storms vary widely in size and duration: most are quite small and last only a few minutes, while the largest can extend hundreds of miles, tower more than a mile into the sky, and last for many days.

The most severe dust storms do not occur in the

United States, but they do occur in many areas of the world. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage and injuries, or death. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of dust and sand racing toward you, especially if you plan to travel through desert or drought-stricken areas, are a backpacker, frequently travel cross-country, or will be traveling internationally.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Storms vary widely in size and duration: most are quite small and last only a few minutes, while the largest can extend hundreds of miles, tower more than a mile into the sky, and last for many days.

The most severe dust storms do not occur in the

United States, but they do occur in many areas of the world. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage and injuries, or death. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of dust and sand racing toward you, especially if you plan to travel through desert or drought-stricken areas, are a backpacker, frequently travel cross-country, or will be traveling internationally.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Texas during my senior year in high school. We encountered a dust storm, and in all the years since I have never been so frightened by any weather-related emergency.

Being from

New Jersey we were very naive and had no idea what was coming toward us. It is no exaggeration to say that when it hit us, we could not see two inches in front of the windshield, no less the front of the car. Margie’s dad was a police officer and accustomed to emergencies, but this was a new one. Should we keep going? Should we pull off? If we pulled off the side of the road we were afraid to go too far because we didn’t know what was there. But then, if we didn’t go far enough we would be hit by traffic. We finally pulled off and sat huddled in the car — desperately trying to see anything besides dust — and we prayed. When the storm suddenly cleared — as suddenly as its arrival — we were only a few feet behind another car that had also pulled off. We were lucky.

Dust storms are among nature’s most violent and unpredictable phenomena, and they don’t just happen in the desert or on foreign continents. They happen in any dry region where loose dirt can easily be picked up. Particles of sand tossed into the air by high winds usually fall back down to the ground after a few hours. Smaller particles may remain in the air for a week or longer and can be blown thousands of miles away. Recently, dust from a storm in the

Gobi Desert region of China settled across Japan.

Storms vary widely in size and duration: most are quite small and last only a few minutes, while the largest can extend hundreds of miles, tower more than a mile into the sky, and last for many days.

The most severe dust storms do not occur in the

United States, but they do occur in many areas of the world. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage and injuries, or death. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of dust and sand racing toward you, especially if you plan to travel through desert or drought-stricken areas, are a backpacker, frequently travel cross-country, or will be traveling internationally.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Storms vary widely in size and duration: most are quite small and last only a few minutes, while the largest can extend hundreds of miles, tower more than a mile into the sky, and last for many days.

The most severe dust storms do not occur in the

United States, but they do occur in many areas of the world. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage and injuries, or death. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of dust and sand racing toward you, especially if you plan to travel through desert or drought-stricken areas, are a backpacker, frequently travel cross-country, or will be traveling internationally.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are among nature’s most violent and unpredictable phenomena, and they don’t just happen in the desert or on foreign continents. They happen in any dry region where loose dirt can easily be picked up. Particles of sand tossed into the air by high winds usually fall back down to the ground after a few hours. Smaller particles may remain in the air for a week or longer and can be blown thousands of miles away. Recently, dust from a storm in the

Gobi Desert region of China settled across Japan.

Storms vary widely in size and duration: most are quite small and last only a few minutes, while the largest can extend hundreds of miles, tower more than a mile into the sky, and last for many days.

The most severe dust storms do not occur in the

United States, but they do occur in many areas of the world. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage and injuries, or death. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of dust and sand racing toward you, especially if you plan to travel through desert or drought-stricken areas, are a backpacker, frequently travel cross-country, or will be traveling internationally.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Storms vary widely in size and duration: most are quite small and last only a few minutes, while the largest can extend hundreds of miles, tower more than a mile into the sky, and last for many days.

The most severe dust storms do not occur in the

United States, but they do occur in many areas of the world. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage and injuries, or death. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of dust and sand racing toward you, especially if you plan to travel through desert or drought-stricken areas, are a backpacker, frequently travel cross-country, or will be traveling internationally.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

We know people who do reconnaissance in remote areas for power utilities, and others who are Scout leaders, pilots, outdoorsmen, truck drivers, military personnel stationed in the

Middle East, missionaries overseas, and frequent international business travelers. Sound familiar to the friends you know?

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

In the

United States, dust storms have caused serious damage.  There were eight during the 1960s, thirteen during the 1970s, fourteen in the 1980s, and more than 20 in the 1990s. Australia has also been experiencing increasing numbers of dust storms. Researchers report storms have cost Australia about $20 million a year in medical bills due to cases of asthma and respiratory disease.  These may be related to the increased numbers and greater frequency of dust storms.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days when very specific weather conditions are in place. Because of this, dust storms can often be predicted. Check before traveling through arid areas by listening to local TV or radio broadcasts. In some areas, especially in the southwestern United States, road signs may also be available to warn you of approaching dust hazards. If you cannot change your travel plans, be sure to be prepared.

1) Be prepared for a dust storm:

a)  Carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, medical masks work well
b)  Carry airtight goggles to protect your eyes.
c)  Carry a supply of water as dust storms most often occur during very hot weather conditions. You may quickly become dehydrated by the dry heat and high winds.
d)  Carry clothing that covers your body, face and head to protect you. Imagine particles of dust and sand hitting your body at 75 miles per hour or more!

2) Get out of there: If you see a dust storm approaching and you are in a vehicle, you may be able to outrun the storm. If the storm is catching up with you, stop and prepare for it. Once the storm reaches you, it will only be a matter of seconds before you will not be able to see anything around you.

What to Do

1) In a car:

a)  Pull off the road while you can still see, pulling off as far as possible
b)  Turn off your car lights, inside and outside. At the onset of the storm others may see your lights and follow them assuming you are on the road.
c)  Set your emergency brake.
d)  Take your foot off the brake to assure your brake lights are not on.
e)  Close all windows and doors tightly.
f)   Close all the air vents to help prevent outside air filled with dust from coming into the car.
g)  Cover your nose and mouth with a bandana, mask, t-shirt or other fabric to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in. If you moisten the cloth it will be even more effective and easier to breathe.
h)  If you are unable to safely pull of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on. Continue to drive slowly sounding your horn every minute or so. You can use the highway’s centerline to guide you until you reach a place where it is safe to pull off.
2) In a house or sturdy building:

a)  Get inside as quickly as possible.
b)  Close all windows, draw draperies, blinds and shut all doors.
c)  Take shelter in a room without windows. Your windows may be “beautifully” sandblasted after a storm but they will still be intact. If the winds should pick up a rock, patio furniture or tree limb, your windows could be broken and you will want to be far away from the shattered glass. This is also the reason to close the blinds and drapes, just in case.

3)  If you are outside and can’t reach a building:

a) Take shelter behind a large rock or other land formation. Do not lie in a ditch, as flash-floods may occur, since thunderstorms often accompany dust storms. However, if you are in an area with small hills, that type of a depression should be fine as a shelter.
b)  Curl up into a ball and protect your head and face. If possible cover your head and face with a sweater, coat, or anything else you may have handy. Winds from a dust storm can pick up and propel other objects, so make yourself as small as you can and cover up.
c)  If you cannot find a large rock and are in a completely open area, lie flat on the ground and protect you head and back with anything you may have. If you are camping or hiking, you should have a backpack, mylar blanket, sleeping bag or other items that would work as shelter.

d)  If you have a mask, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, lightly moisten a bandana or some other piece of fabric and tie it over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have fabric, pull the front of your shirt up over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
e)  Eyeglasses and sunglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but are better than nothing. If you have more cloth you will want to cover your eyes. Otherwise, put on any glasses you have, close your eyes tightly and face away from the dust. Airtight goggles are the best protection — swimming goggles work well. NEVER rub your eyes. If they become irritated rinse with water.
f)   If you are with a group, stick together. A dust storm is similar to a blizzard — you can easily become disoriented and lost. If you are trying to get to a protected area hold hands or lock arms while walking.

4) Watch out for related weather dangers: Ideal dust storm conditions are also perfect for thunderstorms. Lightning and heavy rains often accompany a dust storm. Watch for flash floods — take precautions as you would in any thunderstorm.

Tips

  • It is sometimes recommended to get to high ground in a dust storm, since the densest concentration of sand is close to the ground. If you can find a safe, solid,
    • high point this may be a good idea, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and only if there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.
    • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
    • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
    • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
    • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
    • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
    • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
    • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
    • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

    Since my experience in a

    Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

    Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

  • Dust storms are especially dangerous to those with compromised respiratory systems or weakened immune systems. Inhaling even small amounts of dust can cause potentially life-threatening complications. 
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. If you find yourself involved in a dust storm remove your contacts immediately as the small particles in the air can become trapped under lenses, scratching your eye, and potentially causing permanent damage.
  • Although dust storms are most likely to occur in hot weather, they can form at any time of year, and the frigid winds of a winter dust storm can quickly lead to hypothermia.
  • If at all possible, avoid operating low-flying aircraft during a dust storm or when conditions for dust storm formations are present. This is extremely dangerous because visibility goes to zero in a matter of seconds. Additionally, sand can be sucked into the engine and cause engine failure.
  • Although a desert climate or drought provides the perfect conditions for dust storm formation, the likelihood of a storm depends on many factors. Recent plowing of farming operations can contribute to the likelihood, as can construction and other man-made changes to the soil conditions.
  • In desert areas, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms or dust storms. This becomes a problem when several vehicles are traveling or playing together, such as when 4-wheeling.  The clouds of dust quickly damage moving parts, and decrease visibility, causing accidents. Respiratory problems can also increase — people finding themselves in these circumstances should wear a mask.
  • When you travel in dusty areas, even when a dust storm is not occurring, take precautions to protect electronics, cameras, cell phones, laptops, and tools by wrapping them, preferably in plastic.
  • If you live in a dry area, pay attention to air quality advisories. When warnings are issued, stay indoors or wear a mask if you must go outside. Breathing in even small amounts of dust over long periods of time can cause numerous respiratory problems and even death.

Since my experience in a

Texas dust storm years ago, I have not seen anything quite like it again, but the memory of it is unforgettable and motivates me to never be unprepared. When driving cross-country, I not only have the emergency kit I always carry in my car, but I also throw in my full-blown 72-hour kit as well.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Being aware of the weather forecast and staying in touch with radio broadcasts in the area I travel through is important — even though local radio may not be as entertaining as a favorite CD on a lonely stretch of highway. After doing all we can to prepare, we just have to trust our experience and faith if the unexpected comes our way.

Posted by: prepare4 | March 25, 2009

Making Space for Food Storage

Making Space for Food Storage
By Carolyn Nicolaysen

Recently, at the April 2007 Priesthood Session, Bishop Keith B McMullin spoke of the importance of following the Lord’s counsel to prepare for future challenges, and cited statements from each member of the First Presidency.

President James E. Faust, as a member of the Twelve said: “Fathers and mothers are the family’s storekeepers. They should store whatever their own family would like to have in the case of an emergency … God will sustain us through our trials.”1

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor, said: “Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year’s supply of food … and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food-free.”2

President Gordon B. Hinckley said in 2002:

The best place to have some food set aside is within our homes … We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months… I fear that so many feel that a long-term food supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all…
Begin in a small way … and gradually build toward a reasonable objective.3

Suggesting that food storage, like spiritual conversion, cannot be acquired in a day, Bishop McMullin said: “Inspired preparation rests on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ, obedience, and a provident lifestyle. Members should not go to extremes, but they should begin.”

It may seem strange that I would address the question of where to store our food supply rather than how much to store or what foods to store.

There are three reasons to make a space for storage even before you lay in the food supplies:

  • First, you won’t start a project the size of food storage, until you have made a dedicated space for it. Time to unclutter and get organized.
  • Second, you need to take time to save a little money while eliminating the unimportant stuff you are storing — make room for what is more important. Begin today by saving your change or designating a small amount to be put aside each day, and then do it. As you sort through cupboards — creating space — keep a box handy for items you can sell or trade. Determine ahead of time that any money you make will be used for food storage. But, if you are too busy or hate holding garage sales and selling on eBay, then please give your appropriate surplus goods to charity and move on!
  • Third, we’ve already addressed the question of what to store and how much. See our article “A Second Look at Food Storage”.

Let’s begin with the tried and true — the ideas we have heard for years. These are the space-saving food storage strategies that worked for your mom:

1. Create a table by stacking two 5-gallon plastic buckets, placing a wooden table round from the hardware store on top, and draping the whole thing with a fabric skirt.
2. Purchase a bookshelf or storage shelf and hang a curtain to cover your stored items.
3. Move the sofa out from the wall and stack food storage in boxes behind the sofa.
4. Instead of a brick and board bookshelf use #10 cans from the Church cannery to create that shelf.  If they’re full of food, they’ll serve a double purpose.

Most of you have heard those ideas, and most of them do not sound very appealing, so we will move on to some more creative concepts.

1. We all know the value of under-bed storage. You can purchase risers for your bed, thus adding increased height for taller items and easier access. Higher beds are a popular decorating trend! Purchase under-bed storage boxes, wire baskets or visit a Mailboxes-type shipping store to peruse the various sizes of shipping cartons available to fit your space. Wooden drawers or bins with rollers would be ideal for easy access. The cost of store-bought solutions can be shocking, so watch for sales, or innovate with what you already have on hand.

2.  Redesign your closets.

a.  If you have a deep closet with a bar for hanging clothes, move the bar as far forward as possible. Make sure you still have room to hang clothing. Add shelving to the back wall of the closet. Even if the shelf is narrow it can be used for smaller items such as soup cans, catsup, or shampoo bottles.
b.  Add an additional shelf. Most closets have a shelf above the bar on which you hang your clothes. Look for wasted space above that shelf. Add another shelf if you can, and take advantage of the space all the way to the ceiling. Remember you don’t have to use this for food storage but it is a great place for Christmas decorations and items you use only occasionally.
c. In children’s rooms, lower the clothing bar and add shelving above. Most clothing bars are hung higher than they need to be, even for adults, creating wasted space on the floor — which usually collects lots of clutter.
3. Under a staircase. If you have enclosed space under your stairs, it could be a huge cavern just waiting to be put to work. Even an open staircase offers possibilities.
a.  If you have an open staircase, you can install custom cabinets, shelves, storage cubes on the wall, or a bench with storage underneath to utilize this space in a fashionable way. If you don’t care about fashion, then it’s a great place to stack and store lots of goods, but if you do — keep a map of your inventory and remember to rotate your foodstuffs.
b.  If your staircase is enclosed, create access to the space within, and store away!

4.  If you remodel, or know someone who is doing so, salvage the kitchen cupboards and add them to your garage. Remember you can mount them high and go all the way to the ceiling with storage while retaining plenty of floor space for the car.

5.  Don’t forget the back of a closet door. An over-the-door shoe bag makes a great place to store spices, packaged seasonings, and other small items.
6.  Instead of a dresser, use an armoire. An armoire will double your storage space but without taking extra floor space. Add shelves and fold clothing on the shelves. Add baskets for small items. You probably don’t really want green beans stored in with your clothing, so why not move the sheets and other bedding into the bedrooms and empty the linen closet for food storage. Remember to look up … Baskets, hat boxes, and other decorative storage containers can also be added to the top of the armoire for even more storage, and can be decorative as well.
7.  Have a big bathroom? Add a dresser and store your supply of toothpaste and other bathroom products where these items are ready to use.
8. Do you have a lot of open space in your cupboards? Add more shelves. This is such an easy fix. If you are stacking cans in the cupboard you can easily add another shelf. Adjust shelving to accommodate the size cans you wish to store on them. Leave about 1 ½ inches above the can so you are able to easily access your stored food. Pre-laminated shelving is ideal — it is easy to clean, and there is no need for shelf liners. Home centers will cut the boards for you so take exact measurements with you. If your shelving has the plastic supports, this would be a good time to replace them with the stronger metal ones. If you have cupboards without the predrilled holes for shelving, you will need to get some 1x1s and add supports for each shelf.
9.  If you have a sofa in the middle of a room, consider adding a dresser or cabinet behind it that can be used as lamp table. This is a great place to store games, DVDs, or anything else that is taking up space in a cupboard that might best be used for food storage.
10. Baskets, baskets everywhere! I use baskets to free up other space. I store TP in a tall, tiered sewing basket in the corner of a guest bathroom, which is decorative and holds about 15 rolls. Sheet music is stored in a picnic basket next to the piano.  Baby bottles and bibs are in a basket that decorates a dining room hutch.

11.  You may be noticing a theme here. Clear items out of cupboards and off closet shelves and use these areas to store food.

a.  Roll towels and place them in a basket in the bathroom.
b.  Roll towels and place them in a wine rack hung on the wall. Our hutch came with two built in wine racks. What are we going to do with that? Roll place mats and place them in one and remove the other and add a basket to hide small items like cookie cutters. Now you can use the cookie cutter drawer for pudding and gelatins.
c.  Remove pots and pans from cupboards and hang them. All the decorative wrought iron curtain rods on the market now make an easy way to create a custom looking pot rack; just add hooks.
12.  Open up a wall. That’s right. There are so many ways to use the space between the studs in your walls, including storage solutions. You can:
a.  Add a medicine cabinet. They really make some beautiful ones now, which are flush to the wall and look like any other mirror.
b.  Look at recessed shelving for spice storage.
c.  Build-in storage with dowels to hang tablecloths. Enclose with cabinet doors.
13.   Invest in uniform storage containers. Having containers of the same size, for everything from linens to cereal, will greatly increase the amount you can store in a given space.
14.    Don’t forget the attic, both in the house and in the garage. Of course you would never store food in these hot spaces, but they are great for dry goods and other items unaffected by the heat.
15.   Create a window seat. Use two purchased bookcases to flank either side of a window. Add a bench or cabinets on the floor between the bookcases. Lay a board on the top of the bookcases, long enough to span both cases and the opening between. Add molding to the front edge of the board. Paint the whole unit the same color and enjoy your added space for storage. If you don’t have a window wall, use the same purchased bookcases and create a storage space as if you had a window. Add a board instead of a bench and you have a great desk.

Now that you have created room for that food storage there is one last thing to prepare. Create a list of the places you have designated for food storage areas and a master list of the items to be stored in each area. After all this work you want to be able to find your ingredients as you prepare your family feasts.

Posted by: prepare4 | March 25, 2009

Wildfire: The Holocaust in your Backyard

Wildfire: The Holocaust in your Backyard
By Carolyn Nicolaysen

During the 2006 calendar year there were 96,385 wildfires in the United States. They destroyed 9,873,745 acres of land and more than 2500 homes. In Australia, wildfires continue to threaten drought stricken areas — not just bushland, but also towns and cities including Sydney that have large tracts of forest that wind through the boroughs of metropolitan areas.

Wildfires are the fastest growing disaster threat in the United States and in many areas of the world. As more people build homes in wooded areas, forests, and rural areas, they put themselves at added risk from wildfire. Smaller and smaller lot sizes in cities also increase the danger of a fire racing out of control. Combine these factors with drought, excessive heat and or high winds and these fires can be nearly unstoppable.

I remember clearly the Oakland Hills,

California fire in October 1991. It was truly one of the most frightening scenes I ever witnessed. We watched as house after house literally exploded from the heat of the fire. One minute there was a gorgeous million-dollar home, and in the next minute it was fully engulfed by the inferno.  Before the fire was contained, 25 lives were lost and 2,900 structures destroyed in the hills that overlook one of America’s largest cities.

In the fall of 2003, a wildfire in

San Diego County developed into the most costly fire disaster in California history. Before it was contained it killed 16 people and destroyed 2,427 homes and businesses. Experts say many San Diego neighborhoods, including Scripps Ranch, are fire traps. They predict that if Santa Ana Winds are present the day a fire begins, the fire will be unstoppable and go out only when it reaches the Pacific Ocean. Experts predict the same fate awaits residents of West Austin, Texas — which they estimate may take only eight hours to burn in a worst case scenario.

Wildfires often burn unnoticed until the task of fighting them becomes overwhelming. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, outbuildings and homes. No household sprinkler system, fire extinguisher or garden hose is up to the task of containing a wildfire.

There are many things we can do right now to prepare for the upcoming fire season. Begin by learning as much as you can about the history of wildfire in your area. Local government websites are a great resource for this information. Be aware of weather that can add to the fire danger, such as

Santa Ana winds in southern California. A long period without rain, even if not officially a drought, increases the risk of wildfire as vegetation dries out and housing expands into forested areas.

Before Wildfire Threatens

  • Have a building professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk.
  • Have a landscaping professional inspect your property and make recommendations for reducing your risks.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year. Make sure you inspect the damper and spark arrester as well.
  • Install half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially outside bedrooms. Test batteries monthly and change them once a year. Changing them on the same day each year will help you remember. Choose a day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Purchase at least one good, large, fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Purchase or organize items that can be used as fire fighting tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, hose, bucket, shovel and bag of sand.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with fourth-inch, or smaller, wire mesh. Any attic vent, louver, attic fan, or other opening may allow embers and flaming debris to enter your home and ignite.
  • Use fire-resistant siding and roofing materials. If you currently have a shake roof or wood siding, replace it as soon as possible. Shake roofing and wood siding will allow your home to be engulfed in a very short time.
  • Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors. Ra