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Home Upgrades to Further Protect Against Severe Thunderstorms

Severe thunderstorms cause billions of dollars in insured property damage each year. Homes built using strong construction methods can better withstand severe weather and reduce the damage, disruption, and displacement caused by severe weather.

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We can’t stop severe thunderstorms, but there are choices you can make to strengthen the structural integrity of your home. Upgrade now and be Thunderstorm Ready!

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

1. Strengthen your roof against severe weather.

Severe thunderstorms produce winds of at least 58 mph, which can damage your roof cover and lead to roof leaks that can destroy your home and belongings.

  • Replace your roof with a FORTIFIED Roof, a beyond-code construction method based on decades of IBHS research that reduces storm damage. 
    • Here’s how a FORTIFIED Roof works: 
      • Stronger roof edges keeps the roof on during powerful winds. 
      • A sealed roof deck keeps rain from seeping through the cracks of the roof deck boards even when shingles are lifted or blown off. 
      • Better roof deck attachment using ring-shank nails in an enhanced nailing pattern helps keep the roof deck attached to your home.  
      • In hail-prone areas: 
    • Find a professional to install your FORTIFIED Roof. This process includes an intensive inspection by an independent, third-party evaluator so you can be confident it meets the requirements shown to reduce storm damage.  
    • Having a designated FORTIFIED Roof may qualify you for an insurance discount so be sure to ask your insurance agent for available incentives! 
1- Strengthen your roof

2) Upgrade to a wind-rated garage door.

A garage door is one of the most vulnerable parts of the home during a tornado because it is a large opening. High winds in a tornado can push a garage door inward, allowing pressure to build inside the garage and push up on the roof and surrounding walls—often resulting in major structural damage to your home. Wind-rated garage doors that have been tested to withstand these pressures are available and can help protect your home.

  • Check for a wind rating label on your garage door. 
    • While modern building codes require garage doors to be wind-rated, it’s difficult to know which doors are rated and which aren’t without a label. Additionally, prior to 2006, there were no requirements for wind-rated doors for homes built outside of Florida, and even today, some areas have not yet adopted a modern building code with a garage door requirement. 
      • Look for a label inside the garage door that shows it’s rated for wind pressures in positive and negative PSF (pounds per square foot) values. Wind-rated garage doors labeled with PSF values have been tested to withstand wind pressures. 
      • If there is no label or the label is missing this information, it may not be wind-rated, and it is best to purchase a new garage door.  
  • Purchase a wind-rated garage door. 
    • Consult your local building code department or a local garage door dealer to find out the wind rating required for garage doors in your area.  
    • Look for doors tested to one of these standards: 
      • ASTM E330 
      • ANSI/DASMA 108 
      • Florida Building Code TAS 202 
    • Once the garage door is installed, ensure it shows a label with the wind rating. Remember, don’t peel off the label! 
2 - wind rated garage door

3) Upgrade to impact-rated windows and doors.

Windows and doors with glass can be shattered by flying debris during high winds or by large hail greater than 2 inches in diameter. 

  • Purchase windows and doors with glass labeled as impact resistant. 
3 - Impact Rated Door Label

4) Get a whole-home lightning surge protector.

Lightning, which occurs in every thunderstorm, can cause a power surge to costly electrical equipment and appliances that can’t handle the extra voltage.

  • Install a whole-home lightning protection system.  
This is an image of a handyman/repairman inspecting an electric box/circuit breaker in a residential home.

5) Invest in a whole-home generator.

Severe thunderstorms can cause power outages year-round. Having a whole-home generator can help prevent food spoilage, a way to work from home, provide well water if you have a well pump, power a sump pump and more.

  • Purchase a whole–home generator to keep your power on, regardless of the weather. 



Residential house natural gas backup generator. Choosing a location for house standby generator.

6) Install a tornado safe room.

A tornado safe room is designed to provide the best protection from winds up to 250 mph and flying debris, even if the building around it is severely damaged or destroyed.



7) Upgrade siding materials.

Siding can be damaged by hail, particularly hail larger than 2 inches. Some siding materials are more vulnerable than others.

  • Install brick veneer, stone veneer, or concrete-fiber board siding that can better withstand the impact of hail.  
Man installing fibrous cement siding using siding gauges

8) Upgrade to steel gutters and downspouts.

Hail can dent and damage popular gutter materials like vinyl and aluminum gutters leading to leaks.

  • Upgrade to steel gutters and downspouts for greater durability against hail. 
An old gutter in a detached house. Rainwater drainage from the roof. Season of the summer.

9) Install protective screens around HVAC units.

Large hail can damage costly HVAC coils and fins.

  • Install protective screens or hail guard netting around your air conditioning unit to reduce the chance of damage. 
9- hail-netting-cross-stitched

Want a stronger house?

  • When building a new home, enhance its structural integrity with FORTIFIED, a beyond code construction method developed based on decades of IBHS research. Lab testing and field studies following severe weather events have shown the FORTIFIED method strengthens your home to better withstand severe weather, including winds up to 130 mph, up to 2-inch diameter hail, and even EF-2 tornadoes. Having a FORTIFIED designation may qualify you for an insurance discount, too! 

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!