ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — When severe weather strikes, people are urged to find shelter. For many, that shelter is their own home.
Senior Meteorologist Sarah Dillingham with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety says there are big and small improvements homeowners can make to build their home’s resilience against severe weather.
Take a look around your home, especially the trees around your property.
“Make sure you’re keeping an eye on [trees] that might not look so healthy or some that may have some limbs hanging over your roof,” Dillingham said. “You don’t want to end up having potentially a tree fall on your roof or having one of those larger branches come down.”
Dillingham says your roof is your home’s first line of defense, so you’ll want to make sure it’s in good shape. You’ll want to keep an eye out for loose flashing and shingles.
“Take a lookup in your attic and look at the roof decking. See if you see any signs of a potential leak. You’ll see something in the way of some darker spots that look like water spots or maybe some wet decking, even if it’s a significant leak,” Dillingham said. “If you do notice any issues, you want to make sure to have a licensed roofer come out and take a look at that and see what repairs you may need.”
You can also upgrade to steel gutters and downspouts, which are more durable against hail impacts and are less likely to leak.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind when improving the resilience of your home is making sure high winds stay out of your house.
“When the wind gets into the home, the home is not really built to withstand that technically, so it internally pressurizes,” Dillingham explained. “The wind causes the forces up off the roof and it pushes out on the walls. That uplift on your roof, if it’s not secured properly and doesn’t have hurricane clips or strapping that are tying that roof down, you can potentially lose your roof by allowing that wind into the home.”
Dillingham says garage doors are one of the most vulnerable areas in our home for getting winds into the house. She recommends installing braces or upgrading to a wind-rated garage door that has been tested to withstand high winds.
Another way to keep winds out of your home is by sealing drafty windows and doors properly. Remember to close your windows, doors, and garage doors completely ahead of severe weather.
When gusty winds are in the forecast, you may want to move your patio furniture, trash bins, bicycles, or any other loose outdoor objects.
“If it’s going to be a stormy day or a windy day, maybe pulling those into your garage,” Dillingham said. “That will save you some energy from maybe tracking that down into a neighbor’s yard. It can also potentially cause damage to your home. If that wind picks that up, it can become wind-borne debris and slam into doors and windows or do other damage to your property or maybe even your neighbor’s property.”
It’s not just winds; severe storms are known to produce hail in Virginia. Consider installing screens or hail guards around your home’s air conditioning unit to help reduce the chance of hail damage to coils and fins.
Lightning can also cause damage to your home, especially your electronics. You can install a home lightning surge protector to help keep electrical equipment safe from power surges.
Before a storm hits, create a detailed list or video of your belongings. This home inventory can be used when filing an insurance claim.
Sarah suggests having a good relationship with your insurance agent and making sure you have your agent’s contact information on hand. You’ll also want to review your insurance policy to know what is and is not covered.