What To Do After Extreme Wind
Do not go near downed power lines. Report downed power lines to the police.
Continue to listen to the local news and NOAA Weather Radio for updates following the storm.
If you lose power and are using a generator, be sure to review generator safety tips. NEVER use a generator inside.
Be careful when handling debris that may have blown into your yard.
Stay Informed: Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about severe thunderstorm watches and warnings. More severe thunderstorms could be headed your way.
Contact Your Family and Loved Ones: Let your family and close friends know that you’re okay so they can help spread the word. Text messages or social media are more reliable forms of communication than phone calls.
Assess the Damage: After you are sure the severe weather threat has ended, check your property for damages. When walking through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and sturdy shoes. Not all of it will be immediately obvious. Keep in mind there could be slippery areas, electrical lines broken and exposed, loose floorboards or ceiling tiles, etc.
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Your homeowner’s insurance provider will instruct you on the next steps to take in making a claim. Be aware of insurance scammers if your property has been damaged. Talk with your insurance company about how to learn the value of your home and property. There are companies that specialize in cleaning and restoring your personal items. Ask your insurance company for recommendations of companies you can trust. Make sure you know if you or your insurance company will pay for the cleaning. When you contact the company, be sure to ask for a cost estimate in writing. Make sure to take pictures of your damages for insurance purposes. Often, these pictures are used to help the insurance adjuster access the damage. There are several areas of your home that are most vulnerable to storm damage.
How to Stay Safe When Checking Your Home After Storm Damage
- Before going out, check the local news to make sure that your area is safe.
- Watch out for hazards such as broken glass and exposed nails.
- Always assume that downed power lines are energized and dangerous. Stay at least 10 feet away and alert the police and utility company.
- Avoid standing water, particularly if there are nearby downed power lines.
- Where possible, avoid checking for water or storm damage after dark. If you do so, carry a flashlight instead of a candle or other open flame. This will alleviate the risk of a fire or explosion from a damaged gas line.
- Heavy winds and rain can create physical hazards such as collapsed roofing materials, window damage, collapsed walls or standing water in the basement or home interior.
If you do smell gas or other, such as carbon monoxide—or suspect a leak—shut off the main gas line, open the windows, and immediately go outside. Notify the gas company and the proper authorities of the situation and don’t return until they’ve deemed your home to be safe.
Contact local authorities if you see power lines down. Stay out of damaged buildings.
Help Your Neighbor
If you come across people that are injured and you are properly trained, if needed, provide first aid to victims until emergency response team members arrive.
Signs of Roof Storm Damage
Your roof is the most susceptible to costly damage. If a tree limb or other heavy debris fell on your roof during a storm such as a tornado, your home might have structural damage, so be cautious. Common signs of roof damage are:
- Holes in the roof
- Split seams
- Missing, broken, or dented shingles
- Granules collecting in gutters or downspouts
- Leaks in your roof or ceiling
- Dents on vents, gutters, or flashing
- Chimney damage
If you’re tech-savvy type and have a drone (or a friend or family member who can help you out with one), you can use that drone to inspect your roof safely and get detailed images of potential damage.
If you suspect the damage is significant, do not try to get up on your roof yourself – call a professional roof inspector who has the proper experience and tools to climb up and check out your roof for wind damage safely.
Inspect the roof from inside the attic or wherever you can access it from the inside is also essential – this may show you a different view of potential damage or spots where roof leaks may occur, and a temporary roof leak repair may be required.
Brown, gray, or yellow water spotting, peeling or cracks in the wallpaper or paint, and damp rafters or ceilings are one sign that your roof may have been compromised by wind damage or related problems.
If you have recently experienced a major increase in energy costs that can’t be explained in another way, you may also have damaged ventilation in your roof.
Signs of Other Home Damage from Storms or Wind
Windows and doors are vulnerable to wind damage and flying debris. Inspect windows for cracks, holes, broken panes and damaged frames. Watch out for shards of glass and be sure to board up broken windows until they can be fixed.
Look for storm damage to siding, paint, bricks and other exterior surfaces of your home. Also check outdoor appliances, like air conditioning units. You’re looking for dings, dents, cracks, splitting, holes, breaks chipping and discoloration.
As safely as you can, secure yourself and remove debris from roof, gutters and make sure downspouts are intact to continue to divert water away from your property.
There may be standing water in your basement.
- Do not step in standing water without first making sure power is turned off to avoid risk of electrocution
- If you have a sump pump and, if possible, turn the sump pump on to discharge water from the area.
Flood damage can cause mold if left for too long, so make sure to check for mold growth. Remove water damaged walls and items as quickly as possible so mold does not set in.
Avoid Additional Home Damage Where Possible
When it’s time to start storm damage repair, begin with what you can fix yourself. Often, the storm might not have damaged your home completely and it can be restored with repairs. If you can properly repair some of the damage, you should get to it immediately as you seek professional repair services for the other parts.
Immediate repairs can also help prevent more damage. If water and wind are getting into your home (through a broken window for example) you should board up the window as soon as possible. This will prevent further damage to your property.
It’s important to hire a professional and trustworthy contractor to help you recover your home from storm damage. Poor or incomplete restoration will leave you with an unhealthy home for your family. Any time there is potential water damage, mold can begin growing immediately as well. It’s critical to address and remedy this as soon as possible to avoid additional damage and health risk.