In West Michigan, we deal with severe weather conditions in just about every season. In spring and summer, there are severe storms and tornado warnings, and in the winter, there are massive snowfall and freezing rain. We’re no strangers to inclement weather, and while we’re pretty good at handling these tough conditions, it never hurts to take a few extra steps to protect your home in the event of severe weather. The more you do to keep your home safe, the less you’ll have to spend on repairs, so here are a few tips to protect your home against inclement weather conditions this year:
Maintain trees and shrubs
One of the first things that can cause damage when the winds start blowing are actually the trees and shrubs that make your yard look so nice. Spend a little time cleaning up the yard before storm season hits. Take down dead branches, trim shrubs so they don’t hit the house, and make sure your roof has good clearance from any of the trees around your house. In Michigan, tree clearing is sometimes easier said than done, so if you’ve got a lot of overhanging branches and large trees, consider calling up an arborist who can help make sure any dangerous branches are out of the way.
Consider using bark
Another good precaution to take is to simply switch from rock and gravel ground cover to bark. It’s much softer and will cause a lot less damage in high winds and tornadoes. Shredded bark is another attractive ground cover option that comes in a variety of colors, ensuring you don’t have to sacrifice quality landscaping for safety.
Clean your gutters
When it starts to downpour, it’s your gutters that take the brunt of the damage. They’re there to keep water from flowing down the side of your home and causing water damage, eroding the foundation, or washing out your landscaping. Unfortunately, if gutters are clogged, they lose their ability to catch water and funnel it towards downspouts. That’s why it’s important that you clean your gutters out every year. We know it’s a dirty job, so if you’re just not up to doing it yourself this year, consider hiring a local high school student, or have your roofer clean them out while conducting your yearly roof inspection.
Consider storm windows
High winds and severe storms are no joke. Straight winds and tornadoes aren’t exactly a stranger to West Michigan, which is why it’s always good to consider storm windows. They do cost a bit more than standard household windows, but they make up for it in the additional protection you’ll get from dangerous weather conditions. Most storm windows have lifetime warranties and offer exceptional energy efficiency ratings.
Monitor your roof
It’s a good idea to have your roof inspected professionally once a year, but at the very least, you need to monitor it and make sure it’s in top shape before storm season rolls around. You’ll want to make sure there are no leaks or missing shingles, as severe weather will only make minor issues like these worse. Leaks can allow for massive water damage, especially with straight line winds and severe thunderstorm conditions, and missing shingles leave your roof vulnerable to high winds and hail, which can rip off more shingles, exposing the softer, less weatherproof roof deck.
Remove porch and patio furniture
If you know there’s a storm in the area, or if the forecast is calling for high winds, do your best to remove as much porch and patio furniture as possible. Take in rocking chairs and patio tables, and if you have time, pull down that porch swing. High winds can blow furniture off the deck or porch and into windows and siding, causing serious damage. At the very least, you’re likely to lose that furniture in high winds and tornadoes, so remember to put it in the garage as soon as you hear of severe weather conditions.
Secure heavy furniture that could fall or topple
It’s also a good idea to take preventative measures with the furniture inside your home. By securing top-heavy furniture like bookcases and tall china cabinets to the wall, you protect yourself and your family from severe weather conditions that could cause that furniture to fall and potentially injure someone.
Be sure to document your weather safety upgrades
When you’ve got your home all prepared for the event of a severe weather incident, be sure to take pictures of key areas like windows, gutters, siding, and the roof. In the event that a storm does damage to your home, it will be much easier to file your insurance claim if you have photo evidence of what your house looked like before the damage. Keep those pictures somewhere safe, or email them to yourself, so they’re easily accessible and can be sent to your insurance advisor if need be.
Protect yourself and your family too
In severe weather conditions, your family is always your top priority. In addition to taking the above precautions to protect your home, consider following these next two tips to help keep your family safe in tornadoes, high winds, or severe thunderstorms:
Have an emergency kit
Power outages are common in Michigan, especially when those spring and summer storms roll in. It’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit somewhere like the basement, where it’s safe and can be reached at any time. Consider keeping at least three days’ worth of supplies, including bottled water, non-perishable foods, a radio, a first aid kit, some flashlights, and anything else that might come in handy if you’re going to be stuck in the house without power for a few days. With today’s technology, it’s rare that you’ll be out of power for too long, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Create a plan of action for severe weather
In addition to your emergency kit, make sure your family has a plan of action for severe weather. Know where to go in case of a tornado, and be sure you’ve practiced getting there. Whether your basement or the first-floor bathroom is the safest location, know that you can all get there, and have a plan for staying there in the event of severe weather.
By following the above safety precautions, you’ll be doing your best to keep your home safe from severe weather this year. If something does happen, and your home is damaged as a result of a thunderstorm or tornado, know that your insurance should cover at least part of the damage. For more information on insurance coverage for severe and inclement weather, be sure to give the expert advisors at Doyle & Ogden a call. We’re here to help ensure you get the coverage you need, at a price you can afford.