So far in 2017, there have been 10,709 reports of severe weather across the country. This includes 928 tornadoes, 3,471 reports of hail and 6,310 reports of strong winds. Of these reports, the state of Texas alone had 1,180 reports of severe weather followed by Missouri with 833 reports and Georgia with 633 reports.*
As the reports indicate, severe weather happens often, and unfortunately it leaves behind quite a trail of damage. If your organization experiences damage caused by severe weather, refer to this checklist for steps you should take following the storm:
Filing a Claim
- If your property has suffered a loss, report it. Call your insurance company and file a claim.
- Take photographs of the damage to help document your claim.
- Keep receipts for all expenses related to the loss.
Assessing the Damage
- Before re-entering your building, check for structural damage. Don’t go in if it looks unsafe or if there is a chance of falling debris or a building collapse.
- Thoroughly, and cautiously, inspect for damage and potential hazards.
- When you enter the building, use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns instead of matches, candles or other open flames because gas may be trapped inside. If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound, leave immediately and call the gas company from a neighboring location. If the gas meter is outside, turn off the gas at the meter.
- Turn off the electricity at the main circuit panel even if power is out in the community. Keep the power off until an electrician has inspected your system and given the go-ahead.
- Do not start the heating system or boilers until the systems have been inspected.
- Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect damage, avoid using the toilets and taps. Turn off water at the meter and call a plumber.
- Contact utility companies and reputable contractors to secure the building.
- Until local authorities declare the water supply to be safe, do not drink tap water or use it in food preparation unless it is boiled first.
- Check playground areas for safety hazards caused by the weather.
- Make temporary repairs to protect the property from further damage. Cover holes in the roof, walls or windows with tarps, boards or plastic sheeting.
- Do not attempt to remove or replace displaced propane tanks as there is a real danger of fire or explosion.
- Wear rubber boots, waterproof gloves and other protection during cleanup.
- If floodwaters entered the building and left mud behind, shovel the mud out of the building and then hose down the area. Dry out the premises with fans, dehumidifiers and desiccants (materials that absorb moisture).
- Clean walls and hard-surfaced floors with soap and water. Disinfect with a mixture of 1 cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water. Steam clean all carpets.
- Remove and discard any materials that cannot be disinfected such as wall coverings and drywall.
- Throw away any food items – including canned goods – that have come into contact with floodwaters.
- Do not allow adults or children to search through debris piles on the premises.
For more information on preparing for severe weather and dealing with the aftermath, check out these resources: