How to protect your home in a hailstorm
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.