How to safeguard your home from thunderstorms
How can you protect your property – and finances – from damage caused by thunderstorms?
1. What is a thunderstorm?
A thunderstorm is an atmospheric phenomenon characterized by a series of lightning strikes and thunderclaps. It is often accompanied by wind gusts and heavy precipitation, sometimes in the form of hail, or even a tornado.
A thunderstorm is formed when the atmosphere is unstable, i.e., when warmer air near the surface mixes with colder air from above. Those hot and humid temperatures in the month of August produce a lot of these storms.
2. How to know a thunderstorm is on its way?
If you see cumulonimbus clouds forming in the sky, that means a thunderstorm is coming.
Part of the cumulus family, cumulonimbus clouds are large and round dense white clouds that spread vertically.
These storm clouds are found at lower altitudes (less than 2,000 metres).
They can measure anywhere between 5 and 12 km thick and cover a surface of 5 to 15 km.
3. How to protect yourself?
Maintain your home
Perform regular maintenance around your house. Make sure that:
- The roof is in good condition.
- Doors and windows are adequately sealed and close properly to avoid water infiltration.
- Gutters are securely attached and cleaned so that rainwater drains well.
Take the same care with your outbuildings – shed, garage.
Do you have questions about your weeping tile or foundation drain? Are you worried about the presence of cracks in your home’s foundation that could cause water infiltration? Ask an expert to check it out.
Protect your house from lightning
Lightning is an electrical burst that contains a massive amount of energy.
It targets electrical conductors that offer the least resistance, such as metal.
A lightning protection system (LPS), such as a lightning rod, directs a power surge into the ground rather than ending up in the house where it could cause significant damage, such as the failure of electrical and electronic equipment or loss of personal property.
While you are not required to install this type of equipment in Canada, it is strongly recommended as lightning strikes are becoming more frequent due to climate change, among others. Contact an expert for more information.
Prepare for a possible insurance claim
Compile a list of your belongings and hang on to receipts. Knowing how much it costs to replace a damaged item makes it easier to file a claim.
Confirm with your insurer about your coverage – home, auto. Ensure everything is well protected against damage caused by severe storms, lightning, wind, tornadoes and hailstorms.
Make sure you are entitled to a living allowance if you have to leave your home for a period of time if it is uninhabitable due to extensive storm damage.
Pay close attention to the weather
Stay on top of weather alerts that are issued.
Does the sky look threatening? Prepare yourself accordingly:
- Ensure that all family members are somewhere safe during a storm, with you or elsewhere.
- Bring your pets inside.
- Put away outdoor items that could blow away or move – patio furniture, garbage bins, planters, fire pit, BBQ, etc.
- Store sports equipment that could be damaged or cause damage – kayak, bike, etc.
- Park your vehicle(s) away from trees, streetlights and power lines.
- Unplug electrical appliances and electronics that could be overloaded by a power surge.
Be cautious when a storm hits
Is a storm brewing and about to arrive?
- Close doors and windows and remain safely inside the house.
- Are violent winds stressing you out? Stay away from windows in case one breaks.
- Are you really concerned? Take refuge in the basement and wait for the storm to pass.
4. Assessing the damage
Tour your property after the thunderstorm has passed.
Pick up any debris that could cause an accident.
If your property has been damaged:
- Notify your insurer and open a claim.
- Carefully list damages.
- Distinguish between items that need to be replaced and those that can be cleaned or repaired.
- Take photos to support your claim.
And remember that the sun always shines after a storm!