Spring is the season that’s notorious for severe weather, including tornadoes, hail, lightning strikes, and torrential downpours. Unfortunately, it’s also a season known for roof damage, flooded lawns, broken windows, and a variety of other issues caused from the weather mentioned above. As a homeowner, you want to be sure you’re equipped with the knowledge and tools you need to “weather” the storm, and we want you to be able to identify potential structural/property damage afterward as a result.
Before a severe storm…
It’s crucial that you have an emergency kit stocked and ready for use — get it ready before any nasty spring weather rolls through your area. Below are some essentials to keep in your kit:
- Food: Nonperishable goods, such as baked beans and canned fruits or vegetables, should form the mainstay of your emergency food rations. (If the cans do not have lids that can be popped open, make sure you have a non-electric can opener, too.)
- Water: Allow one gallon of water per person in your household, per day. Since you have no way of knowing how long a storm might affect your area, make sure you have enough water to get you through at least one week.
- Clothing: You’ll want changes of clothing available even if you cannot wash your laundry. (And extra blankets can come in handy year-round.)
- Baby supplies: If you have a baby in the home, keep a week’s worth of formula, baby food, diapers, and wipes on hand.
- Pet supplies: Factor your pets into your water rations, and put aside extra food and water for them, too.
- Medications: If you or anyone in your household is reliant on medication, don’t wait until the last minute to get your refills. You can even talk to your pharmacist about getting an emergency backup supply of prescription drugs.
Along with these items, having a hand-cranked or battery-powered radio on hand is also a great idea in case your home loses electricity for an extended period of time. This allows you to get weather updates and stay in the know about any local emergency directives.
You’ll also want to have back-up power packs for your mobile phone and flashlights. If you live in an area that has frequent storms or if someone in your home relies on electricity for life-saving medical equipment, consider installing a whole home generator. These generators cost more than a gas-powered generator, but they turn on automatically and can potentially keep power running for days at a time.
During a severe storm…
In the event that severe weather is spotted in your area, follow these tips:
- NEVER stand under a tree during a severe storm. If you’re outside, go into a nearby shelter or get in your car.
- Don’t take a bath or shower, as electrical current could travel through the piping and water.
- Have flashlights handy in case the power goes out.
- Don’t stand or sit next to windows as strong gusts of wind could cause flying debris to shatter them.
- If you’re driving and come across flowing water on a road, turn around. If you’re walking outdoors and come across flowing water, don’t step in it. It only takes a few inches to sweep you away.
- Be careful at night when outdoors if you suspect flooding. You don’t necessarily know what’s in the water (e.g., downed power lines).
- Do not enter a flooded basement — wait until a professional pumps out the water safely.
After a severe storm…
Once the storm has passed your area and you can safely venture outside, you will want to check a few key areas around your home, including your roof, gutters, windows, doors, trees/bushes, and for any damage that may have occurred to your car or other property.
When examining your roof, make note of any missing or damaged shingles. These will need to be replaced as soon as possible so future storms don’t ruin your roofing panels. When this happens, moisture can seep inside and cause serious issues inside your attic, and also foster the development of dangerous mold.
Check your gutters for any areas that may have detached from your home. Also, look for signs of any dents or bends in the gutters that could prevent precipitation from being properly carried away from your roofline. It’s also smart to check inside the gutters to be sure there isn’t any buildup of leaves, twigs, pinecones, etc. that may have been blown onto your home during the storm.
Windows and doors
Along with your roof and gutters, do a visual inspection of the exterior of your windows and doors. If you see any broken panes of glass in your windows, or if your doors have detached from your home, you will need to get these problems taken care of quickly to prevent further damage to your home’s interior.
Trees, bushes, and personal property
Once you’ve checked all these other outdoor elements, don’t forget to check your trees and bushes to ensure there aren’t any loosened limbs or areas that will need to be trimmed or removed to prevent further damage. Also, check your vehicle(s) and other assets on your property to be sure they weren’t damaged in the severe weather. If so, take pictures for documentation purposes in case you need to file a claim with your insurance company.
Bonus tip: check your basement
Once the severe weather has passed, take a peek in your basement to see if moisture got inside. If you notice that there is standing water in your basement, do NOT step into it! This could cause electrical shock if you have electric-powered appliances in your basement that are plugged in.
All moisture-intrusion issues with your basement should be handled by a professional waterproofer. They will be able to remedy the situation and help prevent it from happening again in the future.
While most days during the spring season are filled with mild temperatures and ample sunshine, there are times when severe weather can roll through. When this happens, be prepared (get your emergency kit ready now), and know what to look for in and around your home after the storm has passed.