Try these tips to secure your home if you find yourself with storm damage.
Take it from Dorothy. If a tornado or other major storm strikes, the first thing on your mind should be the safety of your loved ones. Once the storm has passed, then it’s time to assess the damage and secure your property.
Tim Reinhold, senior vice president of research and chief engineer at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, suggests calling your insurance agent right away to initiate the claims process. Then inspect your home inside and out and record the damage with photos or videos.
Prevent Further Damage
“You may need to do things like putting a tarp over the roof to keep water out of the house, which will make it harder for the insurance adjuster to see the damage,” says Dr. Reinhold. “Take pictures or videos before you start any cleanup. It will give the adjuster context.”
In addition to putting a tarp over roof leaks, use plywood to seal any broken windows or doors. If there’s water in the house, dry it out as quickly as possible. “There are many surfaces in homes, such as wood, that are a perfect breeding ground for mold—and it can develop in just a few days,” says Dr. Reinhold.
A wet-dry vacuum is a great solution if you have electricity. Otherwise, you’ll have to use a mop and bucket and you may need to remove carpeting.
Care for Yourself
As you clean up, be aware of potential hazards such as stray lumber and nails, broken glass or downed power lines. Wear sturdy shoes or work boots—and heavy gloves if you start moving things—and always be aware of your surroundings in storm-damaged areas.
“There could be a tree branch ready to come down or a piece of glass that might fall from a second-story window,” says Dr. Reinhold. “Be sure to look up and all around you.”
Depending on how bad the damage is, you might have to leave the premises for a while. Secure doors and windows, even if you have to come up with a temporary fix. And remember: Protecting your belongings is important, but personal safety always comes first.
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