Last-minute storm prep for homeowners

Posted in Home

A quaint neighborhood street with large storm clouds overhead.

When a storm is on the way, every minute matters as you take steps to protect yourself and your property. Follow these seven simple, last-minute tips to help you prepare for high winds, hail, heavy rain and other severe weather.

1. Designate a safe room.

One of the most important steps you can take to prepare for a severe storm is to find a suitable place to take cover when the storm rolls through your neighborhood. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommends choosing a room without windows on the lowest level of your home — basements and storm cellars are great options.

If you don’t have a lower level, choose a closet, bathroom or room as close to the center of your home as possible. The key is to choose a room without windows. IBHS also recommends crouching under a sturdy piece of furniture like a table and using your arms to protect your neck and head. The National Weather Service offers similar guidelines: get in, get down and cover up.

2. Get organized.

You can take simple steps like organizing your garage to fit your vehicle or clearing out an interior room to barricade safely during the storm. IBHS says parking in a garage is a great way to protect your car from hail and flying debris. Inside your home, remove fragile pieces like glass, lamps or ceramics from the room you’ve designated to take cover. These accessories can shatter and cause injury during the storm. Finally, locate or store your emergency supplies kit and first aid kit inside your safe room.

3. Close and reinforce your garage door.

Remember your garage door in the hours leading up to a severe storm. To prepare your garage door for high winds and possible tornadoes, IBHS recommends closing the door and reinforcing it with a brace. A brace will help keep your door intact and reduce the chances of wind blowing it in.

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4. Collect and store yard items.

Patio furniture, toys, grills, hammocks, potted plants and other outdoor items can cause serious damage to your home if they are swept up in a storm. If you have time before the storm, stow them in a safe sheltered area like a garage, shed or storage unit. Bring them inside the house as a last resort.

5. Stay informed.

Have a plan intact for staying connected and getting information from weather experts before, during and after the storm. However, electronics that are plugged into an outlet can become an electrocution hazard during a hailstorm or other severe weather. So, consider using your cell phone or investing in a weather alert radio with a hand crank.

IBHS recommends following NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) on social media and enabling wireless emergency alerts on your cell phone. The National Weather Service also broadcasts emergency alerts that you can pick up on your weather alert radio without electricity or cell service.

6. Anticipate power outages.

Don’t forget to charge your devices so that you can communicate with loved ones, utility companies and local authorities in case of an emergency. Additionally, turn on low battery settings and store your device in a safe place during the storm.

Consider downloading movies and games in advance to keep children occupied if you lose power or cell service. You could also consider investing in a rechargeable battery pack just in case you lose power for days at a time.

7. Know severe storm terminology.

Do you know the difference between a Severe Thunderstorm Warning and a Severe Thunderstorm Watch? According to the National Weather Service, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch means thunderstorms are possible in and around the viewing area, so it’s time to prepare for the storm. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means it’s time to seek shelter because severe weather has been reported in the area. During a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, it’s no longer safe to be outside and you should take shelter in your safe room as quickly as possible.

- Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
- National Weather Service
- Consumer Reports

This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. Talk with your independent agent if you have any questions regarding the details of your homeowners insurance policy or if you need to update your insurance.

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