Thunderstorms can occur year-round, but as we can tell from the past few weeks, they are most likely to occur in the heat of summer days and nights. Severe thunderstorms accounted for 43% of insured property windstorm losses in the United States — in 2015 values — between 1980 and 2015. In 2011 alone, the United States suffered insured property losses of $27 billion because of tornados, hail, wind gusts and flash floods that accompanied severe thunderstorms. Thunderstorms can be unpredictable, but there are a number of ways homeowners can better prepare for them:
1. Prepare a supply kit
- A basic disaster supply kit should include essential items such as water, nonperishable food, a flashlight and first-aid materials.
- Because you can’t predict where you’ll be when a storm hits, it is important to have supplies where you are most often, such as at home or in your car.
2. Trim trees
- Remove or trim dead or damaged trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
- Try to have a qualified arborist inspect trees every two to three years to identify any preventative action necessary. A major cause of tree failure is root damage, so be careful when digging or excavating around trees.
- Don’t forget to park your car away from trees if strong winds and severe storms are predicted.
3. Store items inside.
- When alerted of a thunderstorm, bring in anything from the outside that could become windborne debris such as lawn furniture, bicycles, trash bins and trampolines.
- Also secure any loose siding or fence panels.
- Strong winds can pick up even large items such as outdoor furniture, trampolines and roofing iron that could potentially damage windows, roofs and cars.
- Identify things which you may need to secure and include this information in your plan. If you are going away on a holiday during a stormy season, consider securing these items and following other relevant steps before leaving.
4. Keep food cold
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep it closed as much as possible so food will last longer should you lose power.
5. Check gutters
- Clean gutters and downspouts so rain water can flow freely.
- A plugged gutter or damaged drain pipe can create a dam and subsequent roof leak.
- Keeping the drains around your property clear will help surface water move away and prevent water from pooling and entering your property.
- Pot plants in courtyards and around houses are often used to hide drainage grates. Always remember to move these if there is a thunderstorm warning. Also, park away from low lying areas and drains.
6. Purchase a portable generator
- Although generators can be useful in the event of a power outage, remember to use them safely by keeping generators and other power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture.
- Never try to power the house by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
Despite the best precautions taken, severe storms can cause damage to your home and cars. Give Berkely Brokerage Corp. a call to make sure that you are properly insured. When a loss occurs, take pictures before cleaning up any of the damage done. Don’t hesitate to contact us for help. That is what we are here for.