Many communities across the country, including mine, have already experienced severe thunderstorms and tornadoes this spring. About three weeks ago, an EF3 tornado touched down and wreaked havoc five miles north of our home, and since then, I have been thinking about writing a blog article that outlines how to keep your home as safe as possible during inclement weather. Of course, during a storm the safety of your family is most important, but I also want to discuss some ways to protect your home.
Keep in mind that there are some storms that just too powerful for any type of structure to withstand. In those cases, forget all your earthly possessions and get your family to a basement or storm shelter. However, for the majority of thunderstorms during the spring weather season, there are measures we all can take to prepare ahead of the forecast and equip our biggest investments with everything they need to survive severe weather situations.
Let’s go over the top five actions I’ve found to help protect a home during a storm. If possible, try to implement this advice at your primary residence and any rental/flip properties you own.
- Look over your home insurance policies to make sure you’re covered for damage caused by a major storm. Most policies cover wind and tornado losses, but flood insurance is typically separate. If you’re in a flood zone, you are already required to have flood insurance, but even if you’re not, it might be wise to look into it because water damage has proven to be expensive to repair and utterly destructive to a home. Additionally, document your valuable belongings and keep that paperwork in a safe place away from your home.
- Keep tabs on cracks and settling around your home that could allow rain and wind to enter. If strong winds funnel into your house at just the right angle, they could lift off your roof and allow rain to do significant damage to the entire interior of your home. Straight-line winds and micro blasts are unpredictable, so it’s in our best interest as homeowners to do everything we can to keep them from doing damage to our homes. Seal all doors and windows as tightly as possible, and invest in storm shutters if you’re in a locale that is particularly vulnerable.
- Clear your gutters and down spouts of all debris. Check on this regularly throughout the spring as leaves and flower buds often fly around during this time. If heavy rains bog down already “flooded” gutters, water will spill over the sides and land in areas surrounding the house where it could seep into the foundation and cause a great deal of damage.
- Do a bit of yard maintenance when severe weather is forecast. Make sure tree limbs, lawn furniture, toys, tools, flower pots and other accessories are picked up and moved indoors or to the garage. If heavy winds or a tornado develop, these items could easily be picked up and thrown into your home or your neighbor’s home. I’ve actually seen our neighbors’ patio sets and trampolines picked up by the wind during a storm and tossed across yards and fences. It’s quite frightening and really does cause damage, so I take this particular advice to heart.
- Have a back-up power plan ready to go. Major power outages are fairly common due to lightning strikes or wind damage. Install a surge protector for the whole house and consider purchasing a generator to keep your power on in the event of a long-term outage in your community. We hear a lot about generators during the winter in case an ice or snow storm occurs, but they are also a wise item to keep throughout the spring storm season.
I think these are all realistic, effective actions we can take to protect our homes. If you own rental properties, share this advice with your tenants and help them with whatever you deem appropriate, since ultimately you own the home. What other precautions do you take in the event of severe weather? Stay safe!