Summer is usually associated with hot temperatures and sunny skies, but the season can also bring severe weather, like hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning and hail. For homeowners, the result can be minor damage, like broken roof shingles, or major damage, such as structural problems.
Every homeowner can take steps to prepare for summer storms and minimize potential damage.
Click through for tips on how to secure your home and family during severe summer weather.
Protect Your Roof
Whether your storm threat stems from hurricanes, tornadoes or severe thunderstorms, you can help secure your roof against punishing elements. Prior to the start of summer storm season, hire a licensed contractor to perform a roof inspection, making sure there are no missing shingles or leaks that could affect interior ceilings.
Additionally, consider installing impact-resistant roofing to help protect against hail and high winds. Mobile home residents can use straps to fasten roofs securely in place.
Secure All Windows
Purchase storm shutters to protect your home's windows during a major storm. Do not tape windows. If you don't have storm shutters when severe weather strikes, close your windows and blinds and stay away from windows in case the glass shatters. Flying glass shards can cause serious injury.
Inspect Trees and Shrubs
Tree branches can cause substantial damage if they fall on your home or property.
Kim Brooks of SERVPRO, a national cleanup and restoration services firm, suggests keeping all trees properly trimmed. Hire an ISA Certified Arborist prior to summer to inspect trees and branches, checking roots for damage or rotting, and installing cables or bolts to strengthen weakened trees so they don't snap during severe weather.
Secure Outdoor Items
High winds from severe storms, tornadoes and hurricanes can cause loose and lightweight items on your property to become dangerous projectiles. Brooks suggests homeowners secure all outdoor furniture and objects that could become airborne during a storm, like garbage cans and lawn decorations. Bring these loose items into your home or garage in advance of a storm.
Take Inventory of Your Personal Property
Brooks suggests all homeowners make a detailed list of your possessions and back it up with photos or video footage. That way, if your property is damaged and you need to file an insurance claim, you'll have a clear record of any possessions before the damage occurred. Be sure to keep one copy in your home and another in a separate location.
Tornadoes: Know Where to Seek Shelter
When a tornado is imminent, seek shelter in a reinforced tornado shelter or safe room, if one is available. Shelters saved lives when the devastating tornado tore through Moore, Okla., May 20.
Otherwise, head underground into your home's basement or cellar. If your house has no cellar, head to an interior, windowless room, such as a bathroom, or, if possible, evacuate your home.
When the Moore, Okla., tornado was bearing down, some newscasters warned residents without underground shelters to vacate their properties, advice which ultimately saved lives.
Mobile home residents should evacuate to a community shelter.
Hurricanes: Know Where to Seek Shelter
When a hurricane is bearing down on your neighborhood, residents should stay indoors and away from underground basements in case the storm brings flooding. If you have a reinforced safe room in your home, seek shelter there. If not, head to an interior, windowless room.
Flash Flooding: Know Where to Seek Shelter
Heavy rains from summer storms can cause flooding in low-lying areas, or in properties near bodies of water, such as oceans, rivers and streams. If your home is at risk for flooding when heavy rains strike, head to the highest level of your house — the second story or above. If you live in a ground-floor home with flooding potential, evacuate to a community storm shelter.
Keep a Battery-Powered Radio Handy
Keep a battery-powered AM/FM radio in your house. That way, if you lose power, you'll still have access to weather reports, tornado warnings and news. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR), a nationwide network of radio stations which broadcast continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. Have extra batteries on hand.
Prepare for Blackouts
Consider buying a backup generator so you'll have a source of power in the event of a blackout. Prices range from $400 to $15,000, depending on size and wattage. Whether or not you have a generator, be sure to keep flashlights, batteries, candles and matches or a lighter nearby.
Have a cell phone and battery-powered, solar-powered or car-powered phone charger for communication, and update your emergency contact numbers for work, school and family members prior to storm season.
Store Food, Water and Personal Items
Before severe weather hits, be sure to stock up on water and non-perishable foods. Storm flooding and tidal surges can contaminate the local water supply. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, for example, the tap water in some neighborhoods was undrinkable for weeks.
Stock enough food and water to last you and your family a minimum of three days. Keep one gallon of water on hand per person, per day, to last at least three days. A family of four should store 12 gallons of water. Purchase non-perishable food items like peanut butter, energy bars and canned goods.
In case you are unable to get to a store after a storm, be prepared with personal care items, too, including toilet paper, soap, feminine hygiene products and cleansing wipes. Also stock up on prescription drugs, baby food, diapers, pet food and kitty litter, if needed.
Prepare a First Aid Kit for Medical Emergencies
Keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand in case you or a family member get injured. FEMA suggests keeping the following items in your first aid kit: bandages, pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors, safety pins and soap. You can purchase these items and create your own kit, or buy a pre-made kit from the American Red Cross.
Next: How to Survive a Tornado
Keep Battery-Powered Tools Available
Keep tools on hand that don't require electricity, so that if a blackout occurs, you'll still be able to perform necessary tasks. Primarily, you'll want flashlights and extra batteries for light, as well as a wrench to turn off your home's gas or water supply. In advance of any storm, be sure that you know how to turn off your gas and water supply. Additionally, have whistles to alert authorities, a signal flare, fire extinguishers, a compass, an ax and a tarp or sheets of plastic.