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Spring storms can be dangerous and unpredictable. While some portions of the U.S. are more susceptible to violent and hazardous storms than other regions, residents everywhere need to be cautious, take weather warnings and alerts seriously, and know what to do to prepare for a storm.
Texas residents are most concerned about tornadoes (54 percent); severe wind (18 percent); and hail (15 percent), according to a recent Allstate survey.
The Houston Office of Emergency Management has several tools to increase awareness about severe weather on its website, including information on the various natural disasters and hazards Houston faces and a place for residents to sign up for local emergency alerts.
In addition to being aware of the risks, Houston residents need to be prepared. There are several things you can do in and around your house to minimize the impact of severe storms.
1. Prepare for strong winds. Removing diseased, damaged or dead tree branches close to your house and near power lines can help prevent storm damage, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. If a storm is imminent, be sure to bring in any patio furniture; tables and chairs can go airborne in strong winds, and potentially cause significant damage.
2. Make room in your garage. Sixty percent of respondents in the Texas-wide Allstate survey said they haven’t made room in their garages to park their cars during a storm. Make a garage cleanup part of your spring cleaning now, and you may find that it’s a safe haven for your vehicles in the event of a hailstorm. The same applies to other spaces that can provide shelter to your belongings, such as a shed or an enclosed porch area.
3. Devise a safety plan. Prepare an area in the house, typically a basement, for you and your family to take immediate shelter in the event of a tornado. Have a pre-packed emergency kit ready as well; Houston’s Office of Emergency Management suggests packing it with items like water, food, first aid, flashlight and extra batteries, and a radio. Having a plan in place before a weather catastrophe occurs may save lives.
4. Fortify your home. Hurricanes and tornadoes are different, but they have one thing in common: severe and destructive winds. Hurricane straps can be used to protect your home from strong winds. By reinforcing the area between the roof and walls, the walls and foundation, and floor to floor, hurricane straps can further secure your home’s structural supports.
5. Take an inventory of your possessions. If your home is compromised by a storm, an inventory of all your possessions can make the insurance claim process easier. After prepping and preparing your home for a storm, an inventory may act as an added layer of security. You can manually take an inventory of all your possessions, or use a home inventory app on your smartphone to take pictures, store the file and make the process easier overall.
Better preparedness may help you face severe storms and natural disasters with less fear, and can help you feel confident that you’ve taken good measures to protect your belongings and the people you love against whatever Mother Nature may bring.
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