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in: Manly Skills, Survival, Visual Guides

August 11, 2017 Last updated: December 31, 2019

What to Do in a Sandstorm

what to do in a sandstorm illustration step-by-step diagram

Sandstorms occur when high winds roll across barren expanses of dry soil, kicking up dust and carrying it along as they travel. They can move at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and can easily reach heights taller than a 5-story building. The resulting cloud traveling across a landscape of dunes (or a major metro area!) can be both terrifying and beautiful.

But don’t get too mesmerized. Sandstorms can do significant damage to sensitive tissues, especially your eyes and nose. Being caught in one with no protection will feel like getting rubbed down with sandpaper on every exposed surface of your body. If you do find yourself in the path of an oncoming sandstorm, take cover and do what you can to protect yourself with the tools you have available. It goes without saying that if you can get inside a building, do so and stay away from windows that could break if the sandstorm contains debris. But, if you’re on foot or driving through the desert, heed the advice above.

Driving:

1: Pull off the road if you see a sandstorm approaching, and turn off your lights to prevent other drivers being drawn towards you.

2: Roll up all the windows and close all vents that suck air in from outside.

3: Wait until the storm completely passes and then return to the road.

On foot:

1: Take cover on the leeward side of a large object, such as a big rock, tree, or structure. If nothing is available, seek out high ground.

2: Cover your eyes, ears, mouth, and nose with a piece of cloth, wetting it down first if possible.

3 Use any extra clothing available to cover other exposed parts of your body, and wait out the storm.

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Illustration by Ted Slampyak

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