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Hurricanes dominate headlines more often during the summer and fall than thunderstorms and lightning, but the South Carolina-based Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Research Center cautions homeowners not to underestimate the destructive and deadly force of summer storms.
Thunderstorms occur more often and have a direct impact on more people and homes in the U.S. than hurricanes. And, according to the National Weather Service, every thunderstorm produces lightning.
The IBHS says a whole-house or -building surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of lightning damage, along with localized surge protectors for power cords of electronic equipment and telephone and cable or satellite television lines.
To reduce the risk of storm damage to your home, it’s important to prepare your surroundings by replacing gravel or rock landscaping materials with softer materials, such as mulch; trimming trees and shrubbery away from structures; and removing weakened sections of trees.
If a storm is imminent, the IBHS recommends limiting sources of windborne debris by securing or removing lawn furniture, planters, bird feeders and decorative objects.
Seal openings, cracks and holes on the outside of your home to protect your home’s openings from wind-driven water. Fill holes where wires, cables and pipes enter and exit the home, and seal around electrical boxes and circuit breaker panels. Seal cracks around wall outlets, dryer vents, bathroom and kitchen vents and wall lights.
Also, check your garage door. If it doesn’t have a pressure rating sticker, have it evaluated. If necessary, have a bracing system installed to prevent wind from blowing in the door.
Strengthen the roof by ensuring the roof sheathing is strongly fastened to the roof frame, and seal the roof deck to minimize water getting into the attic should the roof blow off. Use roofing cement to re-attach any loose shingles.
“Roof damage is a common claim we see after these storms,” said Sam Rooks, vice president of underwriting and policy services for Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Co., which is among the founding organizations of the IBHS. “Significantly damaged roofs allow water to creep in and cause even more damage to a home. Ensuring the roof is strengthened and sealed before a storm is critical.”
For more tips on protecting your home against storm damage, visit disastersafety.org/thunderstorms.