The 2012 tornado season ramps up in March in the southern US, and gathers momentum as it moves north throughout the spring and early summer – about the time Atlantic hurricanes start setting a course for the North American east coast.
The greatest threats to your home and safety from these storms is wind and rain.
Manmade or not – climate change is real
In a December 2011 PBS News report – "How 2011 Became a ‘Mind-Boggling’ Year of Extreme Weather" – Jeff Masters of Weather Underground and NOAA’s Kathryn Sullivan discuss the science behind the extreme weather of 2011.
JEFF MASTERS, Weather Underground:
“In one year, we had three of the most remarkable extreme weather events in history of the U.S.
I mean, we talk about the Dust Bowl summer of 1936. Well, this summer pretty much matched that for temperature, almost the hottest summer in U.S. history. We also talk about the great 1974 tornado outbreak. Well, we had an outbreak that more than doubled the total of tornadoes we had during that iconic outbreak. And, also, we talk about the great 1927 flood on the Mississippi River. Well, the flood heights were even higher than that flood this year.
So, it just boggles my mind that we had three extreme weather events that matched those events in U.S. history.”
Extreme weather is a global concern, Europe, Australia, & Asia have also experienced devastating weather events more often in recent years.
Who pays? We all do.
As storms become more frequent and severe, the costs are rising. Home insurance premiums are sure to rise as insurance companies shell out more for claims, especially with so much high-value property in vulnerable areas, particularly along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States.
A 2011 CBC News article quotes Gordon McBean, Director of policy studies at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction:
"The insurance companies are saying it used to be that the biggest concern they had for a homeowner insurance policy was a fire caused by a malfunction or something within the house, or a burglary," McBean said. "Their biggest costs now are wind/rain-induced events."
One such event was the August 2005 rainstorm in Toronto that washed out a major road and caused millions of dollars in damages.
"The water that came from that rain event — over ground, in through sewer systems, directly in through windows, in through the roofs of homes — resulted in insurance companies paying out over $500 million," McBean said. "That’s the biggest loss in Ontario’s history — one rain event in 2005."
And lest anyone think that is the insurance industry’s problem, McBean warns that those costs are eventually passed on to all of us through higher premiums.”
And with governments around the world mired in debt and implementing drastic cost-cutting measures, don’t rely on them to pitch in to repair or replace your home. Investing in prevention is the next best thing to your insurance policy
So what can we do to protect our homes?
5 tips to protect your home from wind damage
It’s no surprise that news stories warning of an impending hurricane show people putting plywood over windows to protect their homes and businesses.If you can keep the wind out, your house stands a better chance of surviving severe winds and rain storms.
One of the most vulnerable and often overlooked failure points is garage doors.
Green Werks, a Chicago-based contractor that specializes in Green Building practices makes the case for looking after the 5 most important ways to keep the wind and rain out:
- Secure Garage Doors – If the door fails on an attached garage, the wind can rush in and literally blow your house apart.
- Roof Maintenance – Water and wind can both cause costly damage that can travel right to your basement.
- Landscaping – Trees and shrubs can shelter your home as well as cause damage from falling limbs – plant and prune accordingly.
- Protect WIndows – Pre-cut plywood panels can be installed quickly and could be a house-saver.
- Sheds and yards – Securing small items and buildings keeps them from becoming damaging or even deadly missiles
Don’t be complacent and figure it won’t happen to you. The odds are increasing that it will, and you won’t have enough time to take preventive action when that impending storm is barrelling towards you.
As the old adage goes:
"The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago".
The second best time is now.
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