How to pro­tect your home in a hail­storm

Lesotho Times - - Property -

HAIL storms can strike with­out much warn­ing, leav­ing you with lit­tle time to re­act. Be­ing pre­pared in ad­vance – and know­ing what to do – can help you stay safe and keep dam­age to a min­i­mum. Hail is a type of solid pre­cip­i­ta­tion, dis­tinct from but of­ten con­fused with sleet. Sleet gen­er­ally falls in colder tem­per­a­tures while hail growth is in­hib­ited at very cold tem­per­a­tures.

Hail cre­ation is pos­si­ble within thun­der­storms and is formed when wa­ter vapour in up­drafts reaches a freez­ing point. Ice then forms and is sus­pended in the air by up­drafts and falls down to be coated by wa­ter again. This process can oc­cur over and over adding many lay­ers to the hail­stone.

Hail­stones can be as small as peas or as large as soft­balls, and the larger ones can cause in­jury and se­ri­ous dam­age Thun­der­storms may pass by quickly but can dam­age prop­erty or harm peo­ple in an in­stant. Al­though some storms can’t be pre­dicted, you can take steps to pro­tect your­self and your prop­erty.

Pre­pare Ahead of Time

• Teach your chil­dren what to do in the event of an emer­gency.

• Know where your pets or an­i­mals like to hide so you can find them be­fore a storm.

• Learn the thun­der­storm dan­ger signs: dark, towering or threat­en­ing clouds and the sound or ap­pear­ance of dis­tant light­ning and thun­der.

• Take an in­ven­tory of your per­sonal prop­erty.

Take steps to pro­tect your prop­erty

• Trim tree branches that could break win­dows and pen­e­trate your home.

• In­stall light­ning rods to con­duct light­ning safely to the ground.

• Have a house­hold safety kit es­tab­lished and ready to go with you as needed.

• Bring pa­tio fur­ni­ture and toys into the house or a se­cured garage. Se­cure large items, such as boats or swing sets, to the ground.

• If hail is pre­dicted, it is im­por­tant to get an­i­mals to shel­ter, as they are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble.

• Close all doors and se­cure all win­dows.

• Clear gut­ters of leaves, twigs and any other de­bris reg­u­larly. Hail takes time to melt and an over­flow­ing gut­ter could lead to a leak­ing roof and fur­ther dam­age. Clogged gut­ters also cause rain­wa­ter to pool, and that wa­ter will find its way into your house (par­tic­u­larly with older build­ings).

• Check the down­pipes – make sure rain­wa­ter has some­where to go. Large pools of wa­ter may harm your home’s foun­da­tions.

If you can be in­doors

• Avoid us­ing util­i­ties dur­ing the storm — rely on can­dles and bat­tery-pow­ered ap­pli-- an­ces in­stead.

• Do not han­dle any elec­tri­cal equip­ment or tele­phones, as light­ning can fol­low the wire. TV sets are par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous at this time.

• Avoid bath­tubs, wa­ter faucets and sinks, be­cause me­tal pipes can trans­mit elec­tric­ity.

• If high winds are pre­dicted, iden­tify the safest rooms in your house in which to weather the storm, prefer­ably in­ter­nal rooms with no win­dows, and wait out the storm there.

If caught out­doors

• Get into a build­ing or car if at all pos­si­ble.

• If shel­ter isn’t avail­able, stay in the open and squat low to the ground as quickly as pos­si­ble. Do not shel­ter un­der any­thing tall, such as a tree, fence, tower or tele­phone lines.

• If you are in the woods, get un­der a low clump of trees.

• Avoid me­tal ob­jects that will act as nat­u­ral light­ning rods; th­ese could be any­thing from farm equip­ment to fish­ing rods, bi­cy­cles, golf clubs or camp­ing equip­ment.

• Avoid wa­ter in rivers, lakes, ponds or streams. Be aware of the po­ten­tial for flood­ing in low-ly­ing ar­eas.

• If you are iso­lated in a level field or prairie and you feel your hair stand on end (which in­di­cates that light­ning is about to strike), drop to your knees and bend for­ward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

If in a car

•Pull off the road — don’t stop un­der trees.

•Stay in your car with the emer­gency flash­ers turned on un­til the storm is over.

•Avoid low-ly­ing ar­eas where flooded roads are likely.

Af­ter the Storm

• Lis­ten to the ra­dio to de­ter­mine whether the storm has passed.

• Stay away from fallen power lines; re­port any you find.

• Do not drive un­less nec­es­sary; roads may be washed out or flooded. — Ob­server

Thun­der­storms may pass by quickly but can dam­age prop­erty or harm peo­ple in an in­stant.

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