We’ve all been there: The cooler’s filled with snacks, swimsuits are packed and the sky is a perfect shade of blue—until unexpected clouds roll in, sending rain and hail to ruin a relaxing day outside. But summer storms can do more than spoil a sunny afternoon. They can also wreak havoc on the exterior of your home, vehicles and other property.
To help protect your home—and yourself—from damage caused by hailstorms, consider these helpful maintenance tips:
If you live in an area where hailstorms are prevalent, make sure your roof can withstand hail’s high impact. While no roof is completely hail-proof, Class 3- and Class 4-rated roofing materials will stand up to higher levels of hail damage, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) reports. As a bonus, installing a Class 4 hail-resistant roof may help you qualify for lower home insurance premiums.
Keep track of the date your roofing was installed—and when its replacement is due. While most roofing should be replaced every 20 years or so, roofs in hail-prone areas may need replacing every 7-10 years.
Hailstorm season lasts from March to October, with the majority of storms taking place between May and August. About 3,000 hailstorms occur in the United States each year, resulting in insured losses that average more than $1.6 billion, according to the IBHS. Make sure to take extra precautions during these high-risk months When a storm is approaching, stay inside and bring easily damaged property indoors.
If you’re caught outside when a hailstorm begins, avoid seeking shelter under trees, which can attract lightning and cause injury if branches fall.
Though most storm damage happens to a home’s exterior, damage may also take place inside the house. Power surges produced by lightning can impair the electronic equipment around your home and, in more severe cases, start a fire. If your community is prone to lightning, you may want to ask if your electric company offers whole-home surge protection.
In addition, avoid contact with electrical appliances, corded phones and plumbing fixtures, as they can conduct electricity during a storm.
If a hailstorm strikes while you’re behind the wheel, stop driving as soon as possible and park under a covered garage or overpass if you can. Stay as far away from the windows as you can and, if possible, lay facedown on the floor or on your seat. Large hail can cause serious physical injuries, so be sure to remain inside your vehicle until the storm has passed.For more information on emergency preparedness and disaster response, visit www.fema.gov.