There are about 5,600 hailstorms in the United States every year, based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. Learning about this weather phenomenon and how to properly prepare for it can save lives and minimize damage.
Hail forms when raindrops hit very cold temperatures and freeze into balls of ice. Depending on the size, hail can be extremely damaging to people, animals, property, and cars. And, if winds are strong enough, hail can fall with enough force to penetrate solid surfaces. Falling in paths known as hail swaths, hail storms can range in size from a few acres to an area 10 miles wide and 100 miles long. Some geographies are more susceptible to hailstorms because the elevations at which they form are much closer to the ground than for locations at or near sea level, where hail has time to melt before reaching the ground. This is historically the case in the high plains, but no area is immune from the risk of hailstorms.
PREPARING FOR HAIL
The first concern when preparing for a possible hail storm is life safety. After that, thoughts can turn to protect physical property. Much of the preparation for hail events resides in roofing systems, maintenance, and upkeep. With that in mind, consider taking action to protect lives and reduce property damage.
General tips to reduce damage and prevent injury:
Stay indoors and make sure all window covers are intact in case of window breakage.
Do not inspect property damage until the storm has passed. Hail damage may not be obvious so it’s important to examine all glass surfaces, building walls, and the roof.
Check HVAC equipment. Hail often damages condensing coils by denting the exchange fins.
Consider storing your fleet vehicles in more than one location to spread risk and explore the possibility of protected coverings or indoor garaging.
Roof-specific information that may reduce damage:
In terms of roof susceptibility and maintenance, the type and age of the roofing system, as well as its exposure to elements, play a role in how it performs against hail.
Concrete or clay tiles perform better in hailstorms than asphalt or wood shingles.
Built-up roofs with denser substrates and multiple base sheets perform better than those using lighter substrates or organic felts.
Coarse aggregate surfacing, such as ballast or gravel materials, increases the hail resistance of a roof.
Regular inspection and maintenance of roofing systems will increase the life and resistance to hail and wind events.
HVAC-specific tips, examples, and factors that may reduce damage:
Hailstorms can be hazardous to any and all rooftop equipment – but none more than HVAC units, condensers, and refrigeration units. Damage to these vulnerable systems can affect heating and cooling, cause water damage and result in loss of facility use.
Know the difference between a thunderstorm watch and a thunderstorm warning. A watch simply means conditions could lead to the development of a storm. A warning means a thunderstorm has already developed and been spotted nearby.
If you’ve just moved and are new to an area, learn the name of your county and surrounding ones, as well as cities and landmarks close by. The National Weather Service usually issues thunderstorm warnings by county, so this will help you understand if your home or workplace is in danger.
Get a battery-powered or hand-crank weather radio, so you can receive updates even if the power goes out.
Prep Your Home Before A Thunderstorm
With the spring thunderstorm season approaching, now’s a good time to go out and cut down any loose or rotting branches that could fall on your home during a strong wind.
If a thunderstorm is headed your way, bring in any outdoor furniture that could be blown around or damaged by hail, close and shutter windows (or close blinds and drapes), and unplug appliances and computers to protect them from power surges that could be caused by lightning.
Charge all phone and electronic devices ahead of the thunderstorm in case the power goes out. Move computers and electronic devices off of the floor to avoid water damage if it floods.
Turn off circuit breakers to avoid power surges.
If you plan to use a portable generator, make sure it’s installed by a qualified electrician. NEVER operate a portable generator inside your home or garage.
Bring pets inside if you can
During The Thunderstorm
Go inside and stay there, away from windows and doors. Avoid using corded phones (wireless handheld devices are ok, says the National Weather Service) and doing the dishes or laundry, since lightning can travel through metal plumbing fixtures.
In severe thunderstorms with high winds or a tornado risk, head to a windowless interior room or the basement, but don’t lean against concrete walls or lie on concrete floors. Most are reinforced by metal bars or webbing, notes the CDC, and lightning could travel through the metal and injure you.
After The Thunderstorm
Stay inside at least 30 minutes after you last hear thunder to be sure the storm has passed.
Heavy rains during thunderstorms can flood low-lying areas, so don’t drive over flooded roadways or through puddles when you aren’t sure of their depth.
Watch out for downed power lines, fallen branches, and other potentially dangerous debris, and keep pets on a leash to help them avoid these hazards, too. Never touch a person or object (fences, tree limbs, water, etc.) that has come into contact (directly or indirectly) with a downed power line, but call 911 immediately.
Have a qualified electrician inspect any water-damaged electrical equipment, systems, or electronics.
Do not touch a circuit breaker or replace a fuse with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface.
If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches, use electrical equipment, or do anything that has the potential to create a spark.
In any season, storms can be severe. There are ways to prepare your home for the inevitable storms that sooner or later come, however. Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of damage to your home when severe weather strikes. In some cases, taking these steps can mean the difference between costly home repairs and no storm damage to your home at all.
1. Remove Dead Wood.
Trimming your trees regularly will help fewer branches fall in heavy wind or other severe weather. For particularly tall trees, experts can do the trimming for you and can also tell you when trees are at risk of being blown over in a storm so they can be removed.
2. Secure Outdoor Items.
Loose items like grills, picnic tables, and lawn furniture should be brought inside to avoid becoming projectiles in storms with high winds. Decorations, even when they are securely attached to the home, could also cause damage or be destroyed in the storm.
3. Deal with Drainage Problems.
Having the gutters cleaned once leaves have fallen should be a given, but there can be other drainage problems around your home, including areas where water can drain onto the foundation and damage it. Landscaping professionals can help you identify the problems and find solutions so that you don’t have any issues when the storms come.
A little home maintenance can prevent storm damage.
4. Inspect the Roof Periodically.
A brand new roof should withstand the most severe weather, but if your roof is 5-10 years old or older, it should be checked for loose shingles, nails, and sheathing. Not only can shingles blow off in a storm, but loose nails and sheathing can cause chunks of roofing to be dislodged or create openings for rain and ice to penetrate.
If an inspection does turn up any possible leaks, getting them fixed right away will protect your home from damage in severe weather. Roofs that are over 15 years old risk sudden deterioration or failure in storm situations even if no problems are apparent.
5. Consider Impact-Rated Windows.
You may be able to protect your windows from damage by installing hurricane shutters, or just boarding up the windows if a severe storm is imminent. The fact is, though, that any new windows are likely to be more airtight and impervious to leaks and damage than older windows.
Preparing for Water Damage Disaster for Properties
Would you know what to do if emergency water damage happened at your property?
Would you know what to do if emergency water damage like a burst pipe or heavy rain intrusion happened at your property? Chances are you don’t have a disaster preparedness plan ready.
We believe it is our responsibility to educate our community about how to protect themselves and their properties. That includes informing our customers about the water damage restoration process so they know what to expect from a professional water damage expert.
Because we take our responsibility to you seriously, we also want our community to know what to do before we arrive at the job. SERVPRO of Streamwood, Bartlett, West Chicago, & Warrenville is your partner when water damage strikes and we want you to have the right information so you can help us mitigate the damage before we arrive.
What should you have in a disaster management plan?
Contact information for parties you need to involve.
Where to locate and how to turn off natural gas.
Where to locate your emergency water shut-off valve.
Information about how to shut off fire sprinklers.
Know the safety features of your property & where to locate them.
Building & Emergency Contacts
The first part of disaster preparedness is knowing who to call and how to reach them before an emergency or disaster happens. The obvious contact to have on hand is your insurance agent, but they won’t be much help in mitigating damage. Your obligation to them is to do your part in preventing more damage from happening when a pipe bursts. Therefore, you’ll need to know who to call to satisfy your insurance agent.
Which Contacts Do You Need When You Need Help?
1. Emergency Services
Department of Transportation (spill response)
Poison Control Center
3. Building Contacts (for rentals housing developments, HOAs, or commercial properties)
Hardwood flooring can be expensive. Know how to protect it.
It’s obvious that the longer a hardwood floor stays wet, the less chance it has at being saved, and the higher the chance that the floorboards will cup or warp even after proper drying. Some of the most common problems with hardwood floor water damage are:
Cupping: Cupping occurs when the sides of the flooring are higher than the center of the boards. This usually produces a concave shape. Both solid and engineered (made up of different woods) can cup when exposed to water damage. Hardwood floor cupping is usually a result of a change in the moisture content levels of the wood flooring. In many cases, you can reverse hardwood floor water damage with the use of a professional.
Warping: Warping is similar to cupping but is much more severe. This usually involves the floor buckling or even popping off the subfloor. This needs to be taken out immediately to prevent further damage. Warping is usually a result of humidity fluctuations and can impact all types of wood, whether brand new or old. Unfortunately, water does not have to be present to cause warped hardwood floors. Water vapors being present in the area surrounding the hardwood can warp your floors. It can also be from environmental influences like quick humidity changes in the weather. Warping is most noticeable in the summer, where hardwood floors will expand with the humidity and sometimes buckle up. Fortunately, professional hardwood floor drying equipment can prevent warping if caught early.
Mold: If hardwood floor water damage is not taken care of immediately, mold growth may occur. This usually happens due to pieces of paper that are normally installed directly underneath the floor during installation to prevent squeaking. Hardwood floor water damage can produce mold spores on furniture, clothing, and other areas of the house if not taken care of right away. If your floor has been wet for an extended amount of time without care, there is a chance that your floor is permanently damaged.
6 Steps to Prevent Water Damage While Away From Your Home
It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: arriving home from a relaxing, wonderful vacation only to find that your house has been flooded with water, damaging everything it touches. The second most common homeowners insurance claim across the United States is water damage, usually coming from leaking pipes or appliances while the homeowner is away, especially on vacation. Floods, leaks, or any other water-related problem can go undetected for a matter of days or possibly even weeks if no one is home, potentially resulting in thousands of dollars of damage.
Of course, this can all be avoided if the proper steps are taken before and during your vacation. Here are 6 steps to water damage prevention while on vacation, just in time for spring break!
Step 1: Check The House Check your home for any signs of leaks. Make sure to look at all pipes underneath sinks in both the kitchen and bathroom. Look closely at the water heater for any cracks and/or rust. If you can, get on top of the roof and look for any damaged or dislodged shingles, making sure to fix them appropriately if they are damaged.
Step 2: Examine All Hoses Examine all hoses that are connected to any major appliances, such as the washing machine, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Look for anything out of the ordinary to ensure they are functioning properly.
Step 3: Remove Blockages Remove any and all blockages from rain gutters and downspouts. If your house has a sump pump, check to see that it is working properly by listening to the motor and checking to see that the water is going outside.
Step 4: Insulate Insulate any exposed pipes to ensure that they do not freeze during the winter. If the weather is particularly cold or continuously dropping below freezing, you may want to leave the heater on low while away.
Step 5: Ask A Friend One of the most effective ways to ensure water damage prevention while on vacation: ask a close friend or family member to check on the house periodically while you are away. They should know where the water main is located, in case of any floods, or pipe leaks.
Step 6: Turn Off Main Water Valve If no one is available to check on the house, turn off the main water valve during the trip. Drain pipes by continuously running the water until and it runs out and flushing the toilets after you’ve shut off the water. Doing this will eliminate the chances of a pipe leak or burst that could flood your home.
Help Prevent Electrical Fire with These Safety Tips
One of the most common causes of fire in a home is electricity. Electrical malfunctions account for nearly 15% of all house fires in the United States and lead to personal and financial loss to thousands of home and business owners each year. Unlike other forms of natural disasters (such as severe weather, tornadoes, or floods), electrical fires can, for a large part, be prevented. Today we are going to discuss some electrical fire prevention tips that could save your home – and life.
HOW TO PREVENT ELECTRICAL FIRES
With more than 25,000 electrical fires being reported in the United States each year, the importance of fire safety cannot be understated. Fires started by electricity tend to be more costly from a financial perspective as well, dealing more property damage than their non-electrical counterpart. And unlike traditional home fires, those of the electrical nature can – in most instances – be prevented, with a little thought and action by the homeowner.
OVERLOADING ELECTRICAL OUTLETS
Perhaps the easiest cause of electrical fires to avoid is overloading. Overloading a socket or outlet occurs when a homeowner or employee (in the event of a business fire) plugs too many cords or utilities into an outlet, power strip, or extension cord. You have probably seen this happen a dozen times – a power strip full of tangled cords with another extension cord piggybacking off of it.
This is a big no-no in the fire prevention world. If you do have to rely upon extension cords or power strips for additional electrical outlets, make sure you purchase the kind that has built-in overload protection (it should say so on the product packaging). This ensures the power strip will shut off in the event that it does, indeed, become overloaded, possibly preventing a fire.
CHECK FOR DAMAGED PLUGS AND CORDS
Another cheap and simple way to protect your home from electrical fires is to inspect your appliances and electronics for any damage. Specifically, schedule a day to go through all of your electrical cords and plugs to look for frayed wires or damaged connectors. Doing this at the change of every season is a good way to keep on schedule and can prevent the outbreak of a serious fire in your home.
HIRE A HOME INSPECTOR
Old homes have old wiring, and the older the wiring, the more likely there is to be an issue with it. Even if you have a newer home, hiring an inspector to conduct a home inspection is not a bad idea, as some electrical contractors cut corners (or worse – do not know what they are doing), and you may have bad or outdated wiring in your home (think aluminum wiring or an insufficient electrical panel for instance).
The cost of a home inspection is much cheaper than the cost of fire and smoke damage that can result from a fire. As with any contractor, be sure to conduct your due diligence and research any home inspector before allowing them onto your property.
Let SERVPRO make your fire restoration needs run as smooth as possible
Fires are one of the most devastating catastrophes a homeowner or business owner can face. In the aftermath of a fire, it is important to consult with a fire damage restoration service. But what, exactly, is fire damage restoration and what can you expect during the disaster recovery process?
Fire restoration and fire damage clean-up can be a complicated process for both residential and business fire victims. The loss of valuables and extensive property damage fires can cause is traumatizing, and the last thing a catastrophe survivor needs is more stress. Because of this – and because the fire recovery process can be so difficult – it is essential that you employ a fire damage restoration service to help you pick up the pieces after a devastating fire.
FIRE DAMAGE CLEAN-UP AND REMEDIATION
Once the emergency professionals have finished their rescue efforts and deemed your home or business safe to enter, the first thing you will want to do is begin to pick up the pieces. Part of the recovery process will inevitably involve contacting a disaster restoration service. These professionals are trained to clean-up any fire damage on your property and help prevent fire-associated damages from spreading through your home.
In addition to fire damage, you can also expect to have soot and smoke damage, water damage from the rescue effort, strong smells that will require odor removal, and, in some instances, mold and mildew damage.
When a fire recovery team arrives at your home, their first step will be to inspect your property and assess any fire damage that has occurred. They will check for structural integrity, broken windows, remaining fire hazards to ensure another fire does not break out, and look for other forms of property damage. Once this property damage assessment is completed, a plan of action will be put into place.
If there are any damaged windows, walls, doors, or roofs, the disaster recovery team will take steps to secure the area, which may include boarding up windows, strengthening walls, and, if need be, covering any holes in your roof with a tarp.
After your home’s structural integrity is ensured, the clean-up process can begin. Your home may need water removal or water extraction, as well as drying. Equipment such as air-movers and dehumidifiers will be placed in the home, in an effort to reduce upholstery and carpet damage, and to prevent the spread of mold and mildew damage.
In addition to water extraction and drying, the catastrophe recovery team will need to remove smoke and soot from your home and will need to clean your carpet and upholstery as well. They may also need to perform content restoration for any furniture or vital documents (paintings, photographs, and so forth) that were damaged during the fire or in the aftermath of rescue efforts.
Once the disaster clean-up is completed, your next step will be fire damage restoration. This is the process of returning your home (and life) back to normal. Any damaged walls will be fully repaired and painted, damaged drywall will be replaced, new carpet may be installed if need be, and any structural damage will be taken care of.
During the entire process, you will need to be in contact with your insurance company. One of the advantages of a disaster recovery service like SERVPRO of Streamwood, Bartlett, West Chicago & Warrenville is the fact that we will work with you and help you through your insurance claims process to make sure it is as painless as possible.
Make Fire extinguishers part of your home safety plan
Just don't have a fire extinguisher, know how to use it properly
SERVPRO of Streamwood, Bartlett, West Chicago & Warrenville encourages every household to have a home safety plan that focuses on both preventing fires and responding to a fire should one occur. Fire extinguishers are an important part of this plan. Fire extinguishers are your second line of defense behind a smoke detector and can be the difference between a small inconvenience and a life-changing event.
It is important to not just hang your extinguisher on the wall or in the cupboard. Plan ahead, read the instruction manual, and know your extinguisher’s capabilities before use. Portable extinguishers are useful for putting out small fires but recognize your limits and the limits of the extinguisher.
Doing a “quick check” is a brief inspection to determine that a fire extinguisher is available and will operate, when, and if it is needed. The purpose is to give you reasonable assurance that the fire extinguisher is fully charged and operable. This is done by verifying that the fire extinguisher is in its designated place, that it has not been discharged or tampered with, and that there is no obvious physical damage or condition to prevent its operation.
Making sure your carpet is clean and dried properly is important
Wet carpet poses a health risk if it’s left untreated. It’s a breeding ground for mold and other contaminants and will begin to smell bad after just a few days. The good news is if you call in SERVPRO of Streamwood, Bartlett, West Chicago, and Warrenville, you’ll eventually have a safe place that’s as good as new.
The restoration process begins with carpet drying. In some cases, you might need to tear up the damaged carpet and replace it, but there are instances in which carpet affected by water damage can be fixed.
The first step our team of carpet drying professionals will take is to use professional extraction equipment to remove as much water from the carpet and padding as possible. These types of vacuums are designed to suck up water and the heavy-duty ones used by professionals do a great job of pulling moisture from your carpet.
If the water has seeped through to the padding it will likely need to be replaced. It’s not quite as durable as carpeting and since it’s sandwiched in between the floor and the carpet, there’s a greater risk for moisture getting trapped and mold to grow. To replace the padding, you’ll need to pull up your carpet, remove and dispose of the padding, and dry and sanitize the floor. Then new padding can be laid and your existing carpeting can be reinstalled once it’s completely dry.
Most homeowners opt to work with a professional team to help with the cleanup and drying phase after a flood. It’s possible to do the work on your own, but it’s time-consuming and can end up costing you more in the long-run.
Equipment for Drying Carpet
During the drying process, you’ll want to use specialized air movers and dehumidifiers to speed the time it takes to dry and to ensure all moisture is removed from the area. A professional water cleanup team will have these pieces of equipment and other devices designed to make the water removal process as efficient as possible.
In most cases, the complete drying time for carpeting will take about three to five days. You’ll want to begin the process as soon as possible after the carpet is exposed to water to prevent further damage and stop mold and any bacteria from starting to grow.
Contacting SERVPRO of Streamwood, Bartlett, West Chicago, and Warrenville after a flood is the most important thing you can do to prevent further damage and make sure the water removal and cleaning process is handled properly. If you’re dealing with water damage or need help after a flood.