Keep your home and loved ones safe during summer storm season
Summer brings a welcome season of fun in the sun, but it also has a darker side. Summer is the prime time for severe storms, including hurricanes on the east and west coasts and tornadoes in the southern and midwestern states. Even a simple thunderstorm can become disastrous if it brings hail and heavy rains with it.
It only takes an hour or two to establish a solid emergency plan, but you probably won't have time for this when a storm is already looming on the horizon. By taking steps now to prepare for unexpected natural disasters, you can rest easily knowing you've done all you can to protect your home and family.
Facts about summer storms
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S. They have occurred in all 50 states.
Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30. Most hurricanes occur in September.
Tornadoes occur most often between May and March in the southern states and between June and August in the northern states.
The average warning time for a tornado is just 13 minutes.
Flash floods can occur without any warning and create walls of water up to 20 feet high.
What to do before summer storm season starts
Take these steps before summer storm season starts to keep your home and family safe.
Check your insurance coverage.
Summer storms cause millions of dollars of damage each year. In some cases, homes are completely destroyed. If you don't have enough insurance coverage to pay for the full replacement cost of your home, you could end up reaching into your savings to cover the difference.
It's a good idea to periodically review your homeowners insurance policy to see if it offers enough coverage in the event of a total loss. Keep in mind that the cost of building a new home changes over time, and building materials are often more expensive following a severe natural disaster. So you may want to purchase a little more coverage than you think you need, just to be safe.
You may also want to consider adding special coverage, like flood insurance. Flood damage is not covered in a traditional homeowners insurance policy, and it can be costly. Just one inch of standing water in a home can do more than $25,000 in damages. You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. Premiums vary depending on the flood risk in your area, but most people can expect to pay around $700 per year.
If you live near the coast or in the Midwest where there are a lot of hailstorms, check your policy's wind/hail coverage as well. Due to the high cost of these disasters, many insurers charge a separate deductible for these claims. It's often higher than your standard home insurance deductible, and it may be listed as a percentage of your home's value. Check your insurance policy to make sure you are comfortable with your wind/hail deductible.
Create an emergency kit.
Summer storms may force you to relocate temporarily or knock out services that you've come to rely on. It may take a few days for utilities to be restored, so it's important to have a bag of emergency supplies on hand to see you through this period. The kit should include, at minimum, the following.
A three-day supply of nonperishable food for you and your family
Three gallons of water per person
A flashlight with extra batteries
Personal hygiene items
Important documents (insurance policies, birth certificates, home deed, emergency contacts, etc.)
Cell phone and charger
Map of the area
Pet supplies (if necessary)
Create an emergency plan.
Discuss with your family what you would do in the event of a severe summer storm. Identify the nearest storm shelter, or designate a room in your home where you could wait out the bad weather. If there's a chance that you may need to evacuate, plan your evacuation route and choose an out-of-town meeting place. Make sure all members of your household, including children, understand these plans, and practice them periodically so everyone remembers what to do.
You should also have an emergency communication plan. Make sure everyone in your household knows how to contact one another and emergency services. Phone lines may be down or busy immediately following a storm, so it's a good idea to designate an out-of-state contact as well, in case you can't reach anyone in your area.
Take inventory of your home and possessions.
Take inventory of your home and photograph all of your possessions. Keep copies of these photos in your emergency kit, or store them in the cloud so you can access them later. This will make the process of filing an insurance claim much easier.
Prepare your home as appropriate.
Think about what summer storms are common in your area, and take steps to protect your home against damage. If flooding is a major concern, consider getting sandbags to place around your home to prevent water from coming in. Storm shutters are a good idea if the potential for tornadoes, hurricanes, and flying debris exists.
You should also look for potential hazards in your yard and take steps to correct them. Trim or cut down any trees that could fall on your home. Clear all rain gutters so water can safely flow away from your home. Make sure all outdoor furniture is secure, or make a plan to bring it inside if a storm is approaching.
Don't forget to make plans for pets. Have extra food on hand, and make sure your emergency shelter allows them.
Don't forget to replace the supplies in your emergency kit periodically. Get rid of anything that has expired, and replenish the kit with new supplies.
Don't wait until a storm is on the horizon to prepare. If you do, you may find that many emergency supplies have already been bought up. In this unfortunate scenario, you could end up without food or water for your family when they really need it.
Don't leave children out. Make sure they understand emergency plans as well. This can help them feel less anxious when a summer storm comes along.
Summer storms can do a lot of damage, and there's nothing you can do to prevent them from occurring. But by taking steps to prepare your home and family, you can minimize the toll it takes on you, so you can get back to normal as soon as possible.
Kailey is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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