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Thunderstorms & Lightning and being prepared for a storm.

Natural Disasters Thunderstorms  LightningAll thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, Click here for a Emergency Plan Kit

Even though lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States.

In 2010 there were 29 fatalities and 182 injuries from lightning.

Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Other dangers associated with thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding.

Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities – more than 140 annually – than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard.

Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States.

Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.

You may recall how dry it was last summer and the wild fires that happened in the Midwest and down through Texas.

Before Thunderstorm and Lightning starts there are some things you can do to prepare.

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if you know a storm is approaching.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure your outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle does provide increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.

During Thunderstorms and Lightning there are some things you can do also.

  • Use your battery-operated radio or a NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • You should avoid contact with corded phones. Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle. 

Facts about Lightning. 200252. A two-page facts sheet for boaters. Available online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/lightning/resources/LightningFactsSheet.pdf

How to Guides to Protect Your Property or Business from High Winds. Available online at http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=3263