6 ways to prepare your home for severe weather before it’s in the forecast

(BPT) – Every year, severe thunderstorms lead to hail-damaged roofs, wind-damaged garage doors and, all too often, structural damage that forces people from their homes. While you can’t stop a thunderstorm, you can prepare for one.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) encourages Americans to take steps now to prepare their homes to be thunderstorm ready ahead of spring storms, reducing the impact of severe weather.

“As our communities grow, we become larger targets for severe weather,” said Dr. Ian Giammanco, IBHS’s lead research meteorologist. “Now, we need to make resilient building and storm prep the norm so our communities are safer and stronger in the face of severe weather. It starts with taking small steps based on the latest research to be thunderstorm ready.”

Don’t wait until a storm is on the horizon. Check out these six tips from IBHS’s Thunderstorm Ready guide that can help you proactively prepare and protect your property this spring.

1. Trim trees

Those lovely trees in your yard could pose a threat to your home during high winds. Contact a local arborist to trim and remove branches that overhang the house and assess whether you have any dead, dying or diseased trees that should be removed.

2. Get a home lightning surge protector

Lightning can send a surge of voltage through your home, causing costly damage to electrical equipment like TVs, refrigerators and HVAC units. Install a home lightning surge protector to keep electronics safe from power surges that can lead to damage and expensive replacement.

3. Install protective screens on HVAC units

Hail damage has caused more than $10 billion in insured losses each year for the past 14 years. In hail-prone regions, install screens around your home’s air conditioning unit to help reduce the chance of costly hail damage to coils and fins.

4. Select a wind-rated garage door

Garage doors are one of the most vulnerable parts of the home in high winds. High winds can push a garage door inward, allowing pressure to push up on the roof and surrounding walls, causing a cascade of structural damage to your entire home.

Wind-rated garage doors have been tested to withstand these pressures. If you’re not sure whether your garage door is wind-rated, look for a label that shows it’s been tested and rated for wind pressures. If it doesn’t have a label, it’s best to purchase a new one designed to withstand the winds likely in your area.

5. Upgrade to steel gutters and downspouts

Your home’s gutters and downspouts are particularly vulnerable to hail. While vinyl and aluminum gutters and downspouts are more popular, they’re not as strong as their steel counterparts. In hail-prone regions, upgrade to steel products, which are more durable against hail impacts and less likely to leak.

6. Replace your aging or damaged roof

Your roof is your home’s first line of defense against severe weather. You won’t replace it often, but when it is time, ask your roofing contractor to follow the FORTIFIED standard. This installation method has shown in lab and real-world tests to protect against winds of up to 130 mph and damaging water intrusion. Homeowners should pick shingles rated Good or Excellent in the IBHS shingle performance ratings to reduce damage from hail.

Now is the time to take proactive measures to reduce the potential for costly damage and disruption from severe weather. To learn more about how you can protect your home from thunderstorm damage and download the Thunderstorm Ready guide, visit DisasterSafety.org.