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Prepare Your Home Ahead of Severe Thunderstorms

Severe thunderstorms can include large hail, strong straight-line winds, and tornadoes. Although the spring and summer seasons are the most common time for severe thunderstorms, they can occur at any time of year and damage your home.  

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Every year, use these steps to prepare your home ahead of severe thunderstorms to help reduce potential damage. These annual maintenance activities will help you be Thunderstorm Ready!

Thunderstorm Ready Home Prep & Upgrades Checklist
Annual home maintenance tips and upgrades to strengthen your home.


1. Create a plan for your family and home

Having a severe weather plan helps ensure the safety of you and your family. A plan enables you to make time-sensitive decisions, communicate clearly, and safeguard important documents. Plan now to protect your loved ones and your home.

  • Create an emergency severe weather plan
    • Compile a list of emergency contacts, including fire, police, family, neighbors, friends, tree services, utility companies, and your insurance agent. 
    • Create a communications plan for your family before and after a severe storm. 
    • Identify ahead of time the best place to shelter in your home so you can act quickly when needed.  
      • Choose an interior room with no windows on the lowest floor of your home such as a basement, storm cellar, bathroom, or closet. 
      • Clean and organize the space to make it easily accessible. 
    • Decide on locations where you will meet in case a disaster strikes: 
      • Outside your home in your neighborhood. 
      • Outside your neighborhood or city in case you cannot return home. 
    • Prepare an emergency supply kit. Be ready to live without power and running water for a period of time, depending on storm severity.  
    • Practice the plan with your family. 
  • Stay informed. 
    • Find a reliable source for severe weather information. Follow your local National Weather Service (NWS) office on social media and the NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) on Facebook or X. Tune in to local news often when severe weather is forecast. 
    • Enable wireless emergency alerts on your cell phone. Check your wireless service provider’s website to find out how to do this for your specific phone type. 
    • Purchase a weather alert radio that broadcasts emergency alerts from your local National Weather Service office, preferably one with a hand crank.  
Mother explaining to her children the assembly point map while preparing emergency backpacks

2) Review your insurance coverage and document belongings.

If your home is damaged and you need to file a claim, you will likely have to itemize losses for your insurance company. Documenting your belongings is easier before a disaster happens.

  • Know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t. 
  • Create a home inventory video. 
    • Use your cell phone to video belongings in each room of your house. Be sure to open cabinets and closets! 
    • Store your home inventory in the cloud. Learn more about  how to create a home inventory. 
2 - Review Insurance 2


3) Inspect and repair your roof.

A roof in need of repair is more vulnerable to high winds and can worsen in severe weather. Water leaking into your home can cause a cascade of water and mold damage to your roof, ceilings, walls, floors, and belongings!

  • Have your roof inspected by a trusted and licensed roofing company who will look for the following: 
    • Roof cover condition 
      • Asphalt shingles: look for curling, loose (unsealed), missing and/or torn shingles.   
      • Clay, concrete, and slate tiles: look for cracked, missing, and/or unattached tiles.   
      • Metal panels: look for dents/divots, loose screws, deteriorated rubber washers, discolored or worn off paint (which acts as an anti-rust layer), and/or signs of rusting. 
    • Vents, skylights & chimneys 
      • Vents: look for loose seals. 
      • Skylights: look for leaking, loose, or wavy flashing, cracks, and/or damage to the window around the skylights. 
      • Chimneys: look for leaking around the flashing and/or missing mortar.
    • Roof valleys/seams: look for leaking from roof valleys or seams that are under your roof cover material.  
House during day over garage with truck, gray color Single Family Home and man walking on roof shingles and ladder during repair

4) Check & clear your gutters and downspouts.

Water that does not properly drain off the roof and away from your home has the potential to leak into your home or seep into the basement. Clogged gutters can back-up and allow water to damage roof decking and fascia.

  • Inspect gutters and downspouts to ensure they’re secured to the house by gutter straps. 
  • Clean all gutters, downspouts, and drains so they are free of tree debris and vegetation that may restrict proper flow. 
  • Check downspouts to ensure they divert water at least 3 to 4 feet away from the foundation. 
4- Gutters

5) Seal gaps and cracks on your home’s exterior.

Thunderstorms produce wind-driven rain, and any unsealed opening can allow water and wind to enter your home.

  • Caulk and seal any cracks or gaps on your home’s exterior using a tube of silicone caulk. 
  • Add weather stripping as needed to seal around doors and windows, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.  
Attractive young woman using silicone sealant on the window and repairing the windows of her house

6) Service & organize your garage.

During severe weather, garage doors are susceptible to high winds that can push them in and allow pressure to push up on your roof. Organizing your garage can create space to park on severe weather days to protect your vehicle from hail, falling trees, and flying debris.

  • Service your garage door annually.  
    • If a new door is recommended when you have it serviced, check out the home upgrades page to know what to look for in purchasing a new wind-rated garage door. 
  • Organize your garage so you can easily park your vehicle under cover when severe weather, especially hail, is in the forecast. 
Interior of a clean garage in a house

7) Trim trees and tidy your yard.

During high winds, trees with branches near or overhanging your home can damage the roof cover, siding, and windows. Outdoor play equipment and other items can become flying debris.

  • Keep all tree limbs trimmed and away from your house. Hire an arborist to remove branches that overhang the house and remove any dead, dying, or diseased trees. 
  • Anchor any outdoor play equipment to the ground. Keep ladders and other large items that are not used daily into a shed or garage.  
Woman gardener in gloves with garden saw cutting down a dry branch on an apple tree. Garden work, orchard care, gardening concept

Annual Home Prep

These annual maintenance steps can help you prepare your home ahead of severe thunderstorms to reduce potential damage.

Home Upgrades

We can’t stop severe thunderstorms, but these construction methods and materials are better suited to handle wind, hail, and even tornadoes.

Last Minute Prep

When severe weather is forecast, follow these quick, last-minute steps before the thunder rolls and the wind blows to help reduce damage to your home.

After Severe Weather

As you work to regain a sense of normalcy, some things need to be repaired by professionals while others may be do-it-yourself tasks. Here’s where to start!