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Preparing Your Home for Extreme Weather: Thunderstorms

Extreme weather scenarios come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve prepared a Checklist for Preparing Your Home for Extreme Weather that includes a list of things to keep on hand, packed up and ready at all times for any natural disaster situation. When it comes to thunderstorms, here is what you should know about them and how you can prepare for them.

Prepare home for a thunder and lightning storms.

About Thunderstorms

A thunderstorm is a rain shower with lightning and thunder that typically produces gusty winds, heavy rain and sometimes hail. According to the NSSL (The National Severe Storms Laboratory) “a thunderstorm is classified as “severe” when it contains one or more of the following: hail one inch or greater, winds gusting in excess of 50 knots (57.5 mph), or a tornado. There are about 100,000 thunderstorms each year in the U.S. alone. About 10% of these reach severe levels.”

Thunderstorms are more common during the summer months. They can occur anywhere in the US but Florida, the Gulf Coast and Arizona have more stormy days than other areas in the country. It is rare to see thunderstorms along the Pacific coast because the summer air is relatively dry.

When keeping up with the weather forecast, look out for a thunderstorm watch, which means the conditions are right for a thunderstorm, and a thunderstorm warning, which signifies that a thunderstorm is heading your way. If your area has a thunderstorm warning, that means there is a serious threat to life and property. Seek safe shelter immediately.

Potential Damages to Your Home

Severe wind, hail and lightning may cause significant damage to your home. Here are a few things that may happen during a thunderstorm:

  • Fire - wood and other flammable items can easily ignite into flames if your house is struck by lightning.
  • Power Surge - If lightning follows your home's electrical wiring, the explosive surge can damage even non-electronic appliances that are connected. According to the National Weather Service, this can happen if lightning strikes your house directly, or more commonly when an area nearby is struck and the energy from the lightning travels through communication wires (think phone or internet) or through conductive metal (think plumbing or foundation).
  • Shock Wave - Lightning creates shock waves, which is what we hear as thunder. They can fracture concrete, brick, cinderblock and stone and frequently cause damage to chimneys, plaster walls, glass or your home's foundation.
  • Downed Trees - sometimes trees or large branches are taken down by the strong winds during thunderstorms, and they could cause severe damage to your home or vehicles if they are too close.
  • Hail - large hail can cause serious damage to both your home and cars. Hail typically hits your roof the hardest and may cause leaks or flooding. Park your car in your garage if possible to prevent damage to your car windshield, windows and roof of your car.

Preparing your home for a thunderstorm.

Protect Your Home

Here are some ways to protect your home during a thunderstorm.

  • Unplug electronics to protect them. If lightning hits your home, it can follow your wiring and phone lines, ruining your electronics.
  • Use surge protectors when possible to protect your equipment from lightning strikes.
  • Install lightning rods to protect your home from fire.
  • Avoid using corded, landline phones and taking showers or doing dishes until the storm passes to prevent electrocution.

Be Prepared

Mother nature can be very scary. In all cases, keep an eye on the weather forecast. Don’t forget to take photos of valuable items before a storm hits for your records, and take photos of damages for insurance purposes. Prior to a storm hitting make sure you have the appropriate home insurance for your area. It might be good to acquire skills such as CPR and first aid, in case you need to save a life during these emergency situations.

Practice all types of scenarios within your home frequently so that your family is prepared and knows how to handle it. Make sure all family members know who the out of town emergency contact is, where safe places are, where meet up locations are, and all evacuation routes. Preparing is the best way to lessen the risk of damages and injuries. Anytime you are returning to your home, always wear long pants, long sleeves, and closed toe shoes when assessing for damages. Be cautious and safe at all times. Take measures to protect your home, your property, and especially your loved ones.

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