preparing for high wind threats: 9 tips for homeowners

High winds can be deadly and destructive, causing billions of dollars in property damage every year across the U.S. As a homeowner, it's key to take the proper safety precautions to help protect your house, family, and belongings from high winds.

In 2012 alone, the National Weather Service reported that high winds were responsible for more than $4 billion in property damage, almost $6 million in crop damage, 54 fatalities, and 40 injuries — further proving that high winds aren't anything to mess around with.

When you own your own home, it's your responsibility to complete some standard maintenance before storms hit in order to help ensure your house is ready to withstand heavy winds. Luckily, we've got 9 handy tips on how to safeguard your home when high wind threats are issued.

1. pick up around your yard

Your backyard belongings can become flying weapons that can do significant damage to your home in high wind conditions — something you obviously want to avoid at all costs.

If you're notified of a "wind advisory," — a warning that the area is expected to experience sustained winds of 31 to 39 mph for at least one hour or more— be sure to pick up loose outdoor belongings like lawn furniture, garden tools, grills, sports equipment, bicycles, fallen tree branches, and anything else that may present a hazard if it's picked up by high winds.

Store your belongings in a safe place like your garage or a storage shed. And be sure to check your front yard for any potential hazards, too. If you have a pool, check the user manual to see if the pool pump should be turned on or off during severe weather. You may want to consider laying a tarp over your pool to avoid tedious debris cleanup after high winds.

2. check out the trees on your property

The last thing you want during a windstorm is a rogue tree branch crashing through your roof or your living room window. That's why it's important to inspect the trees on your property for loose or damaged branches.

It's important to get potentially dangerous trees taken care of as soon as possible — especially during storm season. If it's unsafe for you to remove compromised branches on your own, call a professional to get the job done.

3. inspect your roof for weaknesses

High winds can completely tear up your roof and lead to even bigger problems like water damage to your home's structure and belongings. Your roof is even more susceptible to damage if its maintenance isn't up to date, which is why it's imperative to routinely inspect your roof for things like loose or damaged shingles, debris pileups, bare spots, and more.

Call a roofing professional to complete a more in-depth inspection for potential weaknesses in your roof that need to be fixed up before a storm hits. Generally, it's safer to hire a professional instead of repairing your roof on your own. Also, the professional may be able to detect (and fix) issues you might miss.

4. check weather stripping on doors and windows

Weather stripping is designed to keep the elements from coming indoors, so make sure it's in good condition on your home's doors and windows. Intact weather stripping will help keep windy drafts from making their way into your place, and will also help ensure that cold or warm air isn't escaping from your home — therefore keeping you comfortable and saving you some money.

5. reinforce windows, doors, and even your garage door

Home safety features like storm shutters not only reinforce your windows and keep your home and its contents safer, but they can also help you earn homeowners insurance discounts.

If particularly strong winds are expected, you may want to nail some plywood over your home's windows and doors. And for your garage door, which can be especially vulnerable during high winds, you can pick up a reinforcement kit from your local hardware store.

6. make sure your emergency supply kit is up to date

In addition to saving the day during other natural emergencies like tornadoes, for example, an emergency supply kit can be extremely helpful if sustained high winds make it impossible for you to safely leave your place. In general, it's a good idea to have the following items in your kit:

  • 3 days' worth of water and nonperishable food for each member of your family
  • A manual can opener
  • A hand-crank or battery-powered radio so you can stay up to date on advisories
  • Cash, flashlights, and extra batteries
  • Food, water, and toys for your pets
  • Infant formula and diapers, if necessary
  • Entertainment such as books, magazines, and battery-power electronics
  • Medications, a first-aid kit, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and trash bags
  • Solar chargers for cell phones and other electronics
  • Copies of important documents, like insurance policies, emergency contact info, and IDs
  • A warm blanket or sleeping bag for everyone in the family
  • At least one change of clothing
  • A fire extinguisher

Be sure to store your kit in a place where it's easy to grab and go — like in a duffle bag in the hallway or bedroom closet — or in an established safe place in your house like the basement. Make sure your supplies are kept somewhat elevated in case disasters like floods strike.

7. double check your home inventory

Maintaining a thorough, up-to-date home inventory can be a real lifesaver if high winds cause major damage to your home and its contents. Document and keep receipts for high-value items like furniture, electronics, appliances, and clothing, as well as any upgrades or renovations you've made to your house.

Be sure to update your home inventory list with any new purchases, upgrades, or changes you make to your place. If you ever need to file a claim after high winds (or any other covered incident) damage your home or belongings, a well-maintained inventory can significantly speed along the claims process and help you get your house feeling like home again.

8. turn down the temp on your fridge and freezer

If your area is expecting high winds, there's a chance your power might get knocked out. Turning down the temperature on your fridge and freezer can save you time and help prevent food from spoiling as quickly.

And if your food goes bad anyway because of an extended power outage — no problem — at least if you're an Esurance policyholder. We provide up to $500 worth of coverage for spoiled food as a result of a power shortage. How's that for peace of mind?

9. take a look at your homeowners insurance

Your homeowners policy is designed to financially protect you against a whole host of hazards including windstorms, fire, lightning, theft, vandalism, and more. While your dwelling coverage helps pay to repair or replace your home after it's damaged or destroyed by a covered risk, the personal property insurance on your policy helps cover repair or replacement of your belongings.

Before storm season hits, take a look at your homeowners coverages and limits to ensure they're sufficient enough to fully protect you in the event of catastrophe. Your insurer can help walk you through your policy and answer any questions you have. If you're an Esurance policyholder, feel free to give us a ring at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

get a quote for dependable, affordable homeowners insurance from esurance

On top of a wide range of coverages that you can customize around the needs of your home and family, Esurance also offers a ton of homeowners insurance discounts built to save you cash on reliable coverage for your house and belongings. In fact, you can get a discount just for switching your current coverage over to Esurance — and the savings certainly don't stop there.

As a member of the Allstate family, you can count on Esurance to be there for you when you need us most. We're confident you'll see all the perks we have to offer when you get your quick, free quote online, or by calling us at 1-866-439-5633. Our licensed agents are here to help at these times.

Does homeowners insurance cover mold and water damage?
Learn more about how your homeowners policy works if a covered risk like a windstorm results in water damage to your home.

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Check out our handy guide to help you determine how much homeowners insurance feels right for you and your situation.

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