Residents of Ohio are accustomed to the occurrence of hailstorms during the summer months, especially during severe thunderstorms or tornadoes. Although the existence of such storms may be well known, to protect animals, plants, structures, and vehicles, it is essential to stay up-to-date on ways that you can prepare your home and family. Hailstorms are unique in that they come on quickly, often without much warning, and they can dissipate just as rapidly. The typical hailstorm lasts around six minutes and rarely lasts more than 15 minutes. It is prudent to stay alert to severe weather conditions — a mixture of white and dark clouds can be a sign of a potential hailstorm. While most hailstones are between an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, they vary considerably, and even small stones can inflict severe damage to windows, siding, and roofs. Follow these five steps to better equip yourself with information as well as a plan of action for before, during, and after a hailstorm.
- Buy Dependable Homeowners & Hail Damage Insurance – Frequently, the damage wrought by hail is not covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. It is wise to read through your policy documents to learn what is and is not included, and if necessary, purchase an additional policy specific to hail damage. Even when a hail damage policy is in effect, destruction due to negligence may not be covered, so always take action to prevent damage. Following a hailstorm, take photos and video of any suspected damage and start the claims process right away.
- Regularly Inspect & Maintain Your Roof – Take note of your roof’s condition throughout the year, but particularly around April, before the typical start of hailstorm season. Maintain your gutters and drainpipes by clearing them of leaves and debris. Clean gutters will allow water to drain quickly and avoid water damage to your home’s exterior and foundation. Ensure that your chimney is in satisfactory condition and can be securely closed when needed. Seemingly trivial flaws in your roof can in fact be detrimental to your entire roofing system, so replace broken or damaged shingles right away. Class 3 or 4 shingles are recommended for use in Ohio, as they have been proven to withstand the impact from harsh hail. In the event you are replacing your roof, consider choosing impact-resistant roofing.
- Trim Trees & Shrubbery – Weak, dry, or dead branches are at the greatest risk of being broken by strong wind or hail, but very high winds can break even healthy branches. Protect your roof, windows, and siding from destructive branches and trees by keeping your trees and shrubbery trimmed, especially those that hang over your roof or are near windows.
- Keep Your Outdoor Area Clean – Avoid the experience of watching your decorative materials, patio furniture, and other outdoor items transformed into airborne projectiles! Secure your patio furniture, store piles of wood under a shed and away from your house, and keep your outdoor area clean during hailstorm season. Additionally, consider replacing rock or gravel landscaping material with shredded bark or another soft material.
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- Create a Disaster Preparedness Plan & Prepare an Emergency Kit – Lastly, and a step often overlooked by families, is to create and be familiar with your specific plan of action in the event of a natural disaster. Discuss with your family how you will prepare and respond when a hailstorm occurs, including each member’s responsibilities. Don’t forget to assemble your emergency kit with drinking water, first aid supplies, emergency lighting, spare batteries, plastic covers, tarpaulins, and blankets. When possible, it is a good idea to practice the elements of your plan as well as review your plan throughout the year.
While we can’t change the weather, we hope that by applying these five steps you will feel better prepared and confident in your home’s readiness to endure a hailstorm! If you still have questions about your home, feel free to contact us!