Spring causes a real love-hate relationship with Mother Nature. Who doesn’t love the nice warm weather and thoughts of the activities summer brings? But severe weather warnings can quickly bring us back to reality. The Institute for Business and Home Safety recommends steps you can take to protect your property when a storm hits.
Replace rock/gravel landscaping materials with shredded bark and remove weak tree branches that could fall when the winds pick up. If a tornado watch has been issued, move items in the yard that could become flying debris such as patio chairs and grills. If a tornado warning is issued while you are doing that, leave them and seek shelter. In order to get the best information on escalating storms, a weather radio with a battery back-up is a smart safety investment. The radio can be programmed to alert for watches and warnings to give potentially life-saving weather updates 24 hours a day.
It is a good idea to assemble a disaster kit that includes a three-day supply of water and food, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, blankets and important papers (including insurance documents) in plastic bags to avoid water damage. It is also a good idea to complete a personal property inventory and keep that in the kit. Keeping track of your possessions and documenting them can help to quickly recover contents that are damaged in a storm. Your agent can give you a user-friendly brochure. Another important decision to make is where you and your family will seek shelter. If you don’t have a basement or cellar, head to the centermost part of the home—away from windows. Try to have as many walls separating you and the outside as possible. Don’t open windows—doing so won’t save the house and may actually make things worse by giving wind and rain a chance to get inside.
It is just as important to know what to do after a storm hits. A severe storm over a large area will bring your insurance company’s CAT (catastrophe team) to help handle the large number of claims. There are things you can do to help the process. If you filled out your personal property inventory, it will help so much with validating your claim. You might need to discard damaged items because they are a health hazard. Take pictures of what you discard—including a camera in your disaster kit would also be a good idea. tpw