Tornadoes are one of nature’s most powerful, destructive forces and also one of the most unpredictable. While the majority of tornado activity takes place between the months of March and June, it’s not uncommon for a second “season” to spring up in the fall.
There’s not much you can do to protect your home from the significant damage an EF-2 or stronger tornado can cause. However, there are steps you can take that can increase the chances of your home surviving the high winds weaker tornadoes produce. The experts at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) encourage you to take time during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week to learn what you should do before, during, and after a tornado to increase life safety and reduce property damage.
Find more information and resources at https://www.disastersafety.org/tornado/.
BEFORE A TORNADO STRIKES
Prepare your home
- Replace gravel and/or rock landscaping material with shredded bark to reduce the risk of damage from wind-borne debris.
- Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed.
- Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house.
- Create an emergency plan using Know Your Plan a free app – listed as “Your Plan” in iTunes – that gives you the mobile power and organization to help keep your family and your home safer during a disaster. Developed by the Insurance Information Institute (III), this app features property protection guidance from IBHS.
- Identify escape routes from your home and neighborhood and designate an emergency meeting place for your family to reunite if you become separated. Also establish a contact person to communicate with concerned relatives.
- Put together an emergency kit that includes first aid supplies, a portable NOAA all-hazard radio, a flashlight, fresh batteries, basic tools, work gloves, portable lanterns, a signaling device such as an air horn, prescription medications, extra car keys, extra eyeglasses, cash and important documents such as insurance policies.
- The most economical and effective way to provide a safe place for riding out a tornado is to have a tornado shelter. If you do not have one, head to the center-most part of your basement or home, and seek shelter under something sturdy like a workbench or staircase or in a bathtub with a mattress over top of you.
- Stay away from windows and doors to reduce the risk of injury from wind-borne debris and broken glass.
- Keep exterior doors and windows closed to minimize rain and flying debris. Closing interior doors will also help to compartmentalize the building home and provide more barriers between you and the storm.
Below are suggestions to help make the insurance claims process run more quickly and smoothly:
- Be prepared to give your agent or insurance company representative a detailed description of the damage to your property. Your agent will report the loss to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible in order to arrange an inspection of the site.
- If it is safe to access the area, take photographs of the damaged property. Visual documentation will help with the claims process and can assist the adjuster in the investigation.
- Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Make two copies—one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost. Visit KnowYourStuff.org for free, Web-based software to help you prepare your inventory.
- Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that can assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property.
- Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows and damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save the receipts for any supplies and materials you purchase as your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred by making temporary repairs.
- Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home or business from a licensed contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
- If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep a record of all expenses, such as hotel and restaurant receipts.