Preparing Your Home to Survive Summer Thunderstorms Summer thunderstorms may be more than a month away, but it’s not too early to think about preparing your home for thunderstorm season. Planning and maintenance are the best ways to ensure the safety of your home and family when storms strike. Check on the Trees Thousands of homes are damaged by falling trees and limbs during storms each summer. Take a walk around your property and examine each tree carefully. Remove dead or overhanging tree branches that could fall on your house if the tree is struck by lightning or blown by heavy winds. If you see tree branches that could take out power lines, contact your local utility company. When in doubt, call in a professional arborist to determine the health of your trees and let you know what needs to be done. Prepare for Power Surges If you haven’t already done so, it’s a good idea to put your entire house on a surge-protection system. This will protect your electronic appliances and devices in case of a lightning strike or other power surge. If you are preparing your home for an immediate storm, you’ll need to unplug as many electrical appliances as possible. It’s easier and faster to unplug one surge-protected power strip than each individual appliance. This also makes it easier to routinely turn off power to appliances and electronic equipment when not in use, which can save money on your utility bill. Secure Outdoor Furniture Your patio furniture and barbecue grill provide outdoor fun for your family, but a bad storm could turn them against you. Secure any outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage. Make sure large patio umbrellas are anchored in a secure base and are kept closed when not in use. If possible, keep open space in a garage or storage shed where these items can be moved when storms threaten. Make sure bikes and toys are put away in a secure area as well. Outside items are an important but often overlooked consideration in preparing your home for storms. Make an Emergency Plan You can’t prevent thunderstorms from striking, but you can make sure your family knows what to do in case of a storm-related emergency. Make an emergency kit and family plan. Determine the safest area of your home to shelter in case of a violent storm or tornado warning. A dry basement is ideal, but an interior room or closet with no windows will also work. A basic emergency kit should contain things like a weather radio, flashlights, and extra batteries, and should be stored in or near your family’s safe spot. It’s also a good idea to have enough non-perishable food and one gallon of water per person, per day, for at least three days. Preparing your home and family for prolonged power outages will make those events less stressful for everyone. Review Your Homeowner’s Insurance The only thing worse than having your home damaged by storms is finding out that your insurance won’t cover the damage. Reviewing your policy and making sure you have the appropriate coverage for your home and climate is a crucial part of preparing your home for summer storm season. If possible, sit down with your agent and discuss your coverage limits and deductibles for roof damage, structural damage, flooding, and fire.