5 Tips for Preparing Your Home for Hail and Wind
If a hailstorm blew in tomorrow, would your home be ready to weather it? It’s easy to dismiss the idea, especially if you’ve never experienced a serious hailstorm, but the chances of experiencing one soon might be greater than you think.
Most meteorological societies classify any hailstorm containing stones larger than 1 inch in diameter as severe. Combined with high winds, these stones can break windows and cause structural damage to roofs.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records approximately 120 severe hail storms in each state per year. Many are short-lived and occur in unpopulated areas, but some hover over cities, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
As with any natural disaster, it’s difficult to predict how damaging any given storm will become. Less than four years ago, the United States saw the largest hailstones ever recorded. They measured more than 7 inches and weighed approximately 2 pounds each. Locals likened the hail to bricks pounding on their homes.
Below, you’ll find five quick tips that can prepare your home and your family for a severe storm.
1. Inspect Your Yard for Potentially Damaging Materials
More often than not, materials around your yard will cause more damage during a storm than the wind or hail. One simple way to prepare for a storm is to take a few hours to clear any loose and dangerous material from your property. For instance, Mother Nature Network recommends using shredded bark on pathways rather than gravel, because high winds often pick up small rocks, causing damage to windows, siding and cars.
It’s also important to trim your trees often, keeping a keen eye out for weak branches that could potentially land on your home. If you don’t take them down, a storm will.
2. Consider Optimizing Your Roof
Take some time to inspect your roof, looking for holes, missing tiles and structural weaknesses. Storms are relentless, and they will expose in flaws in your home’s exterior.
Repair any damage that you see as soon as possible. Also, consider replacing your roof with impact-resistant shingles. These shingles are weather-tested and designed to limit the damage of larger hailstones. Some insurance companies will even offer you a discount on your homeowner’s insurance premiums for installing stronger shingles.
3. Check Your Gutters
While you are on the roof, take a moment to look at your gutters. Take note of any damage or loose pieces, paying extra attention to the seams between pieces. When it’s time to replace your gutter system, look into seamless gutters, which will last longer and drain faster.
4. Create a Storm Plan
Identify the safest room of your home and designate it as the emergency meeting area for your family. When selecting the room, The Weather Channel recommends choosing the one that has the least amount of windows, electrical appliances and plumbing fixtures. If your chosen room contains windows, plan to close the shutters and pull the blinds when a storm approaches.
5. Maintain a Comprehensive Home Inventory
If you haven’t already, it’s worthwhile to log your possessions into an inventory. Without a list, insurance claims will move slowly and you might not receive compensation for everything you lost.
A well-organized inventory can speed up the claims process. If you don’t have time at the moment, it’s still worth it to fire up the video camera and record a quick walk through each room. Later on, try to go back and make a list, complete with photos of each item and a record of serial numbers when applicable.