How To Survive a Dust Storm or Sandstorm

Dust and sand storms are among nature's most violent and unpredictable phenomena. High winds lift dirt or sand particles into the air, unleashing a turbulent, suffocating cloud that can reduce visibility to almost nothing in a matter of seconds and cause property damage, injuries, and deaths. No matter where you live, it's a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of sand racing toward you.

Part One: Surviving a Storm on Foot

Put a mask over your nose and mouth If you have a respirator or mask designed to filter out small particulates, put it on immediately. If you don't have a mask, wrap a bandanna or some other piece of cloth around your nose and mouth. A shirt sleeve or a bra works good. Moisten it a bit if you have enough water. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the inside of your nostrils to prevent drying of your mucus membranes.

Part Two: Protect your eyes

Eyeglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but airtight goggles are better. If you don't have goggles, shield your face with your arm as you move, then wrap a piece of cloth tightly around your head to protect your eyes and ears.

Part Three: Look for Shelter

Even a parked car will do, so long as it is off the road in not in danger of getting hit. When possible, enclosures are your best bet. However, anything "leeward" (shielding you from the direction of the wind) of the storm will be better than nothing.

Part Four: Get to high ground

The densest concentration of sand or dust bounces close to the ground, so the storm will be less forceful at the top of a hill. Seek high ground if you can find a safe, solid, high point, but only if the storm is not accompanied by lightning and there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.