The DomiDocs Guide to Dust and Sand Storm Preparedness

“I was born for a storm and calm does not suit me.”

– Andrew Jackson

Generally, as homeowners, most of us would prefer to remain calm. However, when it comes to an impending dust storm or any type of natural disaster, we automatically rise to the challenge to protect our homes and families at all costs. And a few of us may even thrive while prepping and planning for that challenge.


Are you ready for this?

According to SciJinks, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): On any given day, dust storms kick up a lot of dust into our air. Scientists estimate that on average, about 44 billion pounds (20 teragrams) of dust are in Earth’s atmosphere at any one time.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), “Sand and dust storms are common meteorological hazards in arid and semi-arid regions. They are usually caused by thunderstorms – or strong pressure gradients associated with cyclones –which increase wind speed over a wide area. These strong winds lift large amounts of sand and dust from bare, dry soils into the atmosphere, transporting them hundreds to thousands of kilometers away.” Dust and sand storms can endanger economic activity and public health.

We all know that what goes up, must come down. Using 17 scientific models, the Barcelona Dust Regional Center has developed a warning system where dust and sand storms can be predicted three to five days before they occur. “There are indications that climate change is and will continue to influence this phenomenon. Drought and desertification associated with global warming can increase the amount of dust over certain areas,” states Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation program.


Storm stats.

Dust and sand storms are most common during the spring. They can occur anywhere in America but occur most frequently in the Southwest including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. The cities of Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Yuma are especially hard hit by these atmospheric events.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you can only be affected by dust storms that originate in the US, when in fact intense North African Saharan dust clouds regularly make their way 5,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to the US. Sand and dust storms can cause damage to homes and take down trees while carrying flying debris and burying objects along the way. Damage to utilities, power failures, and airport closures can occur; there’s also a high asthma attack risk and potential exposure to valley fever, an infection caused by soil fungus in the Southwest.


Dust and sand storms defined.

According to, there are three types of storms in the dust/sand category:

Dust and Sand Storms Characteristics
Dust Storms
Dust storms typically last only minutes, but can be imposing in size reaching up to many miles long and several thousand feet in height. A jet stream or simply a lack of rainfall can be enough to incite a dust storm, as loose dirt particles are light and easily picked up by even gentle winds Blowing dust: is a type of dust storm where visibility is reduced to 1 mile or less Dust haze: is a suspension of dust in the air, typically prior to a dust storm Dust devil: a fairly strong, short-lived whirlwind ranging up to 32 feet wide and more than a half-mile tall.
Result from severe thunderstorms creating strong winds; they usually happen in the desert, carrying sand, and are more localized than sandstorms.
Sand Storms
Typically occurs in the desert where sand is abundant; sand is heavier than dust/dirt, so it requires strong winds to form a storm. Sand storms can be as high as 50 feet, depending upon wind strength.

How DomiDocs can help you navigate through a storm.

The keys to helping you weather any natural disaster are always going to be the same: knowledge and organization. It basically comes down to homeowner responsibility and doing your due diligence to protect both your family and your home before a disaster strikes. Use the secure, award-winning DomiDocs homeowner platform to:

  • upload a detailed home inventory list itemizing your home’s contents including receipts, photos, and videos of your home’s current condition
  • store and catalog your proprietary household paperwork using the Insurance Document Bundle feature where your insurance policies are listed to show the company, coverage, cost, and start- and end-date of each, displayed with a calendar timeline for quick reference when needed. Besides for your own use, you can share with your insurance agent at the touch of a button if need to file an insurance claim
  • work your way through our comprehensive DomiDocs New Homeowner Guide offering best use instructions to help prevent homeowner claims


The basics of dust and sand storm preparedness.

In short, NOAA states you should do the following basics:

Before a natural disaster, take the time to:
Determine your personal dust and sand storm risk.
Do you know if you live in a sand or dust storm-prone area? Check with your community and local government to find out information as to how many storms you can expect during the year. Do they offer any prepping classes? There’s an annual Southern Arizona Dust Storm Workshop held in the spring.
Prepping your home for a sand or dust storm.
  • winds from dust and sand storms can break tree branches so be sure to trim your trees regularly, especially if you notice a dead limb hanging about
  • maintain your roof regularly as loose shingles can fly off with the wind, which then will require more repairs overall compared to fixing a few shingles initially
Know your resources.

If you live in Arizona, there’s a weather alert app designed specifically for dust storms. The NWS Forecast Office also issues Dust Storm Warnings. You can also visit the Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System (Forecast Maps), as part of the WMO SDS-WAS Regional Centre for the Americas.

Develop an evacuation plan.

Typically most sand and dust storms only last a few minutes, but it never hurts to be prepared. Every member of your family needs to know what your homeowner evacuation plan is. Where will you go? How will you get there? What optional evacuation routes will you have if your initial choice is blocked? Where will you stay? Knowing these basics in advance can help stem panic during an actual natural disaster situation. Have a to-go bag in place with all the supplies you’ll need, including items for your pets. If you’ll need assistance in traveling, you’ll need to confirm with someone in advance. And be sure to follow any evacuation orders that have been issued. As a family, discuss how you can help your neighbors during a natural disaster by checking in or helping them evacuate as well.

Assemble disaster supplies for your family members and your pets.

The American Red Cross recommends gathering 2 emergency supply kits:

  1. A Go-Kit: with a 3-day supply of items you can carry with you, including chargers for your devices (cell phone, wheelchair, CPAP, etc.) and backup batteries; as well as non-perishable food, water, and medications. Cash is also important to have on hand as ATMs may not be working/accessible. 
  2. A Stay-at-Home Kit: with a 2-week supply of the above items.

NOAA recommends adding the following to round out your emergency disaster supply kits, where applicable:

  • masks, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer
  • non-prescription medicine such as antacids, anti-diarrhea, and pain relievers
  • contact lens solution/prescription eyeglasses
  • baby bottles, formula, wipes, diapers, and diaper rash cream
  • feminine hygiene supplies
  • sleeping bags/blankets
  • a change of clothing for each family member, including sensible footwear
  • fire extinguisher
  • matches in a fireproof container
  • mess kit with plates, utensils, cups, and paper towels
  • activities for kids like puzzles, games, or books
Review/update your homeowner insurance policy.

It’s estimated that 40% of Americans can’t find an important household document when needed, so the first step is to upload your vital household documents to our user-friendly digital platform, so there’s easy access 24/7/365. Secondly, reassess your homeowner policy to ensure you have the best coverage to fit your needs. Compare the cost and coverage that you have in place, to what else is available from your current insurer and other companies. If there have been any major additions to your home and/or contents in the last year, it’s time to review your homeowner insurance policy to ensure it’ll cover your new additions.

Generally, damage to your home caused by dust/sand/haboobs is not covered, but depending on your location, you may be able to purchase extra insurance coverage for such occurrences.

Make your home disaster-resistant.

Depending on where you live across America, insurance companies may reward your efforts in making your home disaster-resistant by offering discounted homeowner insurance premiums. Think storm shutters, reinforced roofing with hurricane clips/materials, and sump pumps. Upgraded plumbing systems can lessen the risk of water damage.

Have supplies on hand to make emergency repairs.

Such supplies can include plastic sheeting, tarps, sandbags, and/or plywood, plus the necessary tools to apply these to your home like a staple gun and/or duct tape

Complete a written disaster plan.

Now that you’ve got everything in place, there’s no better way to solidify it than by making a written plan, which should include regularly practicing your escape route, and maintaining your disaster prep plan supplies by replacing expired items. Ensure your plan includes a contact list, with at least one contact who lives outside the impacted area; share your disaster plan with family and friends.

Take the time to emergency life-saving skills.
The American Red Cross recommends that adults and kids around the age of nine learn first aid and CPR skills., the American Red Cross, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following:

When an impending dust or sand storm is heading your way:
Monitor local news reports and emergency alerts; know that ‘A Watch’ warning means be prepared, while ‘A Warning’ means take action.
Don’t drive, but if you’re caught in a sand or dust storm, advises you to pull over, set the emergency brake, stay put, and ensure all of your vehicle lights are turned off when you park off the roadway (as many past vehicle pile ups have occurred from motorists using headlights as guiding lights to safety, but they inadvertently end up crashing and leaving the roadway instead).
Have a blanket in your car for extra protection from any particles that may enter your vehicle. Also have a winter-type snow brush to remove sand that may be covering your vehicle and/or the engine cover, fan, radiator, and vents; be careful as components may be hot if your vehicle was recently running.
Cover your eyes, nose, and mouth by wearing a mask, goggles, or a cloth to help avoid breathing in nasty airborne particles that can cause health problems. Do the same for your pets.
Remove outdoor objects that could be picked up by high winds including trash cans, lawn furniture, and patio umbrellas, as they can become deadly weapons once airborne; anchor gas BBQs and propane tanks.
Shelter safely in your home while staying away from doors and glass windows.
Turn off your air conditioning so it doesn’t pull dust/sand into your home; ensure all your windows and doors are tightly closed. After a storm, clean the exterior of your a/c unit to wash away any dust while checking for any loose connections and vacuuming the evaporator coil if you have access to it.
Using an indoor air purifier can help to trap microscopic dust particles that you may otherwise breathe in.
Have plenty of water on hand as dry storms mean dry weather with the potential for dehydration to occur. Double-check your emergency supplies including bottled water, plus battery-operated flashlights and a radio.
Move your vehicles to a safe location. If your car was exposed directly to the storm, take your car to a detailer asap to minimize paint/interior damage.
Spray down your house after a storm to get rid of dust/dirt accumulations.
In general, follow SRRP: Secure: close all doors, vents, windows, and any other airflow into your home Remove: anything in your yard that could become flying debris Respond: to storm warnings, and warnings to remain inside Prepare: for disasters than can accompany haboobs such as fires, flooding, monsoons, and power outages.

The Problem with Insurance Companies

When you’re in the midst of dealing with a natural disaster, there’s no doubt you’ll also be dealing with your insurance company. DomiDocs CEO and Founder, William McKenna, advises to never accept your insurance company’s first settlement offer as chances are it’ll be a low-ball offer they’re just hoping you’ll take without question. Many attorneys agree that the initial offer by an insurance company should immediately be rejected. What should you do? Access your personal profile on the DomiDocs home management platform, and submit your documented receipts, photos, and videos to your insurance adjuster with just one click. Take the time to factor in missed wages, medical bills (current and future), vehicle repairs, and any other losses that occurred before accepting any settlement offers.

Never accept an insurance company’s first settlement offer: McKenna himself was initially offered a $13,500 settlement offer for damages sustained to his home’s roof by a sudden, unexpected microburst. By providing his documentation already stored in the DomiDocs Homeowner Platform, McKenna’s settlement was increased to $201,000, proving true the immeasurable value of DomiDocs.

DomiDocs has your back! Whether it’s avalanche preparedness, How To File an Insurance Claim, or mental health tips in The DomiDocs Guide: What to Do After a Hurricane Hits, we’re here for every step of your homeowner journey.

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