While tornadoes can occur in the United States during any month, weather conditions produce a peak season that runs through October. In areas of the country subject to the harshest storms, winds can far exceed those of even the strongest hurricanes, averaging between 110-205 mph.
Try these nine tips from the Hanover Insurance group to get ready:
1) Make an evacuation and communication plan so that when a tornado watch is issued, you’re ready. In many cases, you’ll have only minutes to get to a storm shelter, the basement, or to an inner windowless room or interior hall.
2) Create an emergency preparedness kit that has what you need to live in your home for awhile, even if it’s wrecked or if you’re without electricity and water. The kit should contain a week’s worth of non-perishable food, bottled water, paper plates and cups, eating utensils, medicines, first aid handbook and bandages, blanket, a radio, batteries, flashlight, soap and toiletries, bleach for disinfecting, and spare clothing. Store the kit in the basement or other safe area.
3) Have debris removal tools on hand. There may be a significant amount of debris following a tornado that will have to be moved just to exit your structure. Some of this will be splintered wood and glass. With this in mind, store helpful items — including heavy soled shoes, gloves, eye protection, and a small shovel to safely move debris. This should be kept in the same area as your survival kit.
4) Create a home inventory. Tornadoes can destroy your home and its contents. A proper home inventory helps you document and value your possessions. Photograph or shoot video of your entire home or business, including the contents of each room, and store these with a written inventory and serial numbers in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box. Automate the process using a free online inventory tool available at www.hanover.com.
5) Make sure you’re not over- or underinsured. It is always a good idea to review your home owners policy with your independent insurance agent, ensuring you have enough coverage for your contents and the physical structure as well. Also ask about other coverage that may be of value to you in the event of a tornado loss, such as reimbursement for temporary living expenses.
6) Create and share contact info. All family members should have the personal and business contact information (phone/email) for quick communications. Also ensure you have your agent and insurer’s claims office numbers stored in your mobile phone. After a storm, cell service may be more accessible than local land lines. Have important numbers on hand to help expedite your recovery after the storm.
7) Wait for official notice before returning home. If there is an evacuation after a storm, wait for official notice that it is safe to return to your home. When returning to your home, be cautious when entering a damaged structure. Stay away from damaged or weakened walls.
8) Take photographs and/or video documenting claim damage. Should your home or business be damaged in a tornado, take pictures of the entire scene and document all damage — provided it is safe. Try not to remove items until an insurance adjuster has had an opportunity to visit the property and assess the damage, but do what you need to do to protect your home from further damage, like putting a tarp over holes in your roof.
9) Keep an accurate record of any temporary repairs or expenses. If you do need to make temporary repairs to help preserve the remains of your home or personal property, keep all records to ensure that they may be considered in your claim.