For many, there’s no sound more soothing than that of a far-off thunderstorm or the pitter-patter of raindrops on a tin roof. But what happens when the thunderstorm isn’t so far off? How do we protect ourselves from the effects of thunderstorms and the damage they can leave in their wake? We’ll review some steps to protect your home from thunderstorm damage.
The importance of preparing for thunderstorms
Storm damage is a fact of homeownership. Research from the National Severe Storms Laboratory shows more than 16 million thunderstorms occur each year worldwide. The US sees approximately 100,000 thunderstorms per year, and at least 10 percent of them can be classified as severe.
That’s over 10,000 severe storms that have the chance to damage homes every year. Whether it’s debris strewn throughout the yard, a fallen fence, or a power outage, the chances are pretty good that you will likely need to clean up after a storm at some point in your homeownership experience.
Unfortunately, cleaning up can be costly, too. The National Centers for Environmental Information estimates that severe storms average $2.3 billion per catastrophic event.
While you can’t control Mother Nature, you can take steps to better shield your home from the effects of bad weather. But let’s first get familiar with the kind of thunderstorm damage to watch out for.
Effects of thunderstorms on your home
So just what kind of damage can a thunderstorm cause? A serious storm can impact your home in several ways, such as:
- Wind damage. Wind causes more than half the damage that results from severe storms. Anything in the path of a strong wind gust or a tornado is vulnerable to impact from wind-propelled debris. Even smaller storms that produce derechos – strong straight lines of wind ahead of storms – can cause hurricane-force winds of 75 miles per hour or more in a short timeframe.
- Lighting damage. Lightning damage is less common than wind damage, but it can be costly to repair. The National Lightning Safety Institute estimates lightning-driven insurance claims average at least $4,234 per claim. Strikes directly to your home can severely damage your electrical systems and ruin unprotected appliances if there’s a power surge.
- Hail damage. Any uncovered structure, object, or person is susceptible to damage or injury during a hail event. Large hail can easily break windows and damage roofs.
- Flood damage. Heavy downpours can inundate the ground and lead to flash flooding. Of the damage a storm can cause, flash flooding is the most costly. An inch of standing water can cost as much as $25,000 for repairs to the home alone.
How to protect your house from thunderstorm damage
Sadly, we can’t prevent storms – otherwise, there’d be no need for storm shutters, surge protectors, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And that means you can’t prevent storm damage – but you can reduce a storm’s impact on your home. Here’s how:
- Do your research. Historical weather trends for your region can give you a hint on what kind of damage to expect seasonally. For example, residents in the Tornado Alley may be inclined to fortify their roofs to mitigate storm damage. (Of course, the possibility that Tornado Alley is shifting may mean more people will want to do this!)
- Be prepared. Strong winds can turn any loose object into a projectile, so secure the space around you. Store grills and lawn furniture when not in use. Prune large trees around your home to prevent falling limbs that could have roofs and windows. Invest in a lightning rod for your home to lower the likelihood of lightning strikes, and move your vehicles into a garage or covered parking if you can. Lastly, unplug electronics when a storm sets in if you don’t have surge protectors.
- Stay safe. Make sure your family has a safety and evacuation plan in place to protect yourselves from injury during a storm. Identify a safe room in the house where you can huddle through high winds. Make sure this space is away from windows and located in a structurally sound part of your building, such as a closet or basement bathroom.
- Revisit your policy. Home insurance plans cover most of the damage we’ve discussed so far, including damage from wind, lightning, hail, and fallen trees. However, home insurance does not cover flood damage. For that protection, you must have flood insurance.
Severe storms can be dangerous and costly, but with planning and preparation, you can weather them. When in doubt about what your home insurance covers, give your Kin agent a call.