Why Choose SERVPRO?
SERVPRO provides many of the services you may need after a storm blows through your area. We provide emergency roof tarping and board-up services to help prevent additional damage from the elements and provide security to your property.
What to Do After a Storm Damages Your Home: 5 Steps to Take
If a storm damages your home, it can feel like your life is suddenly flipped upside down. You may feel overwhelmed with the destruction the storm has caused, and it can be difficult to know what to do first. But careful planning before a storm hits can help you navigate the challenging waters afterward, so you can return to normalcy as quickly as possible. So what should you do after a natural disaster? Here are 5 steps to take so you can be prepared if a storm damages your home.
1) Be careful and stay alert
The destruction and aftermath of a storm of any kind can pose serious injuries. Once you’re certain you and your household members are safe and unharmed, take the necessary precautions to avoid injuries. It’s common to come across hazards from storm damage like broken glass, exposed nails, or displaced screws, so keep an eye out. Be alert of unsecured piles of debris like caved-in roofing materials, standing water, and collapsed walls.
It’s important to always assume that downed power lines are still energized and dangerous. Stay as far away from the power lines if possible and alert the police if you find downed power lines in your neighborhood. Additionally, if you smell gas, immediately shut off any gas valves to prevent further danger.
2) Assess the damage and take photos of the storm damage
After the storm has passed and before contacting your insurance company, assess the storm damage to your home. To ensure you’re fully compensated, take pictures of any interior and exterior damage to your home. Your house could have structural damage, so always be cautious as you’re moving about your home. When you’re inspecting the interior and exterior, record any of the following:
- Roof lifting and lost shingles. Be alert of any holes or leaks in the roof, split seams, dents on vents and gutters, missing, broken, or dented shingles. You can work with an experienced roofer to find a local, reputable insurance agency.
- Missing or damaged exterior siding. Rain can cause damage to siding and strong winds can tear it right off.
- Broken windows and destroyed doors. The wind itself as well as the debris it carries can easily break windows and blow open doors.
- Damaged or broken appliances, including your air conditioner. This is commonly due to water damage.
- Basement flooding. When the soil surrounding your home becomes too saturated with water, your basement or crawl space can flood, causing damage to your belongings and the foundation of your home.
- Moisture damage. Rain and water can seep into your home and cause mold to develop in insulation, wood, furniture, and carpeting.
- Fire damage. Electrical shorts caused by downed power lines or water entering outlets and electrical equipment can cause fires.
Don’t forget to record the loss or destruction to your personal items too. Most homeowner’s insurance policies include personal property coverage up to a scheduled limit.
3) Call your insurance agent right away
After you’ve taken photos of the storm damage, call your agent as soon as possible and stay in contact until your claim is resolved. They’ll be able to explain what kinds of damage your insurance policy covers. Make sure to discuss the damage caused to your home and provide the photos you took along with proper documentation. Following this, your insurance company will send out an adjuster to determine the extent of the damage.
4) Stop further damage
Now is the time to do what you can and stop any further damage from occurring. If storm damage is allowing wind and water to get into your home, start by covering broken windows or a leaking roof with a tarp or plywood. Do what you can first to minimize further damage, then consider contacting a local restoration service provider to help you out. They can help you tackle storm damage and get your property back to normal. If you don’t know of a trusted contractor in your area, oftentimes your insurance company can help you get in contact with a reputable contractor to avoid any scams.
During this time, if your home is in poor condition, consider booking a hotel room or staying with friends and family for the time being. If your home requires extensive repair, make sure you return only when it’s safe to do so.
5) Stay organized and keep receipts
Keep good documentation for any claim to your homeowner’s insurance. For example, save all receipts for materials and labor to ensure you receive fair reimbursement.
Familiarize yourself with what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers. For example, a typical homeowners insurance policy will cover tree damage from a storm, but the biggest exception to most coverages is flood damage. Regardless of carrier, flood damage is not covered as part of a standard policy. Therefore, you’ll need flood insurance in the event that your home is damaged by a flood.
A homeowner’s insurance policy will typically cover three scenarios:
- Weather damage: This typically includes damage due to hail, wind, fire, snow, and more.
- Non-weather events: Common non-weather events are actions like theft and vandalism.
- Sudden/accidental events: This includes situations like a water pipe breaking or a water leak.
If you live in an extreme-weather area with high storm risk, speak with your agent to find out if it’s in your best interest to protect your home and belongings with storm damage or flood insurance. It’s an additional coverage you can opt for in your homeowner’s policy, but can help you after a storm damages your home
Water damage describes various possible losses caused by water intruding where it will enable attack of a material or system by destructive processes such as rotting of wood, mold growth, bacteria growth, rusting of steel, swelling of composite woods, de-laminating of materials such as plywood, etc.
Perhaps surprisingly, window damage claims make the list of top commercial property damage claims. This type of damage can occur due to storms, high winds, or hail and doesn't necessarily involve shattered glass. Structural or seal damage to window and fenestration systems are often overlooked since they're not readily apparent. Speak with an experienced attorney to make sure you're not omitting window damage in your claim.
Storms are the most common cause of roof damage, as strong winds, down-pouring elements, flying debris, and falling trees can impact the structure of a building's roof. It's not uncommon for insurance providers to deny roof damage claims by arguing that the roof was old, that the damage was a result of normal wear and tear, that it was built from known risky materials, or that the business owner in some way caused the damage.
Storm Emergency Kit
Spring is the time of year when many things change—including the weather. Temperatures can swing back and forth between balmy and frigid. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. Sometimes extreme weather changes can occur even within the same day. Thunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lightning, tornadoes, and flooding. Whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur. Because spring weather is so unpredictable, you may be unprepared when severe weather hits—particularly if you live in a region that does not often experience thunderstorms, tornadoes, or flooding. And when severe weather hits unexpectedly, the risk of injury and death increases. So planning ahead makes sense; prepare for storms, floods, and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will. Advance planning for thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, and floods requires specific safety precautions. Keep an emergency kit on hand. Some items to include are: A battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio, and extra batteries for bothAn emergency evacuation or shelter plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each roomA list of important personal information, including:telephone numbers of neighbors, family, and friendsinsurance and property informationtelephone numbers of utility companiesmedical informationAccording to the American Red Cross a first aid kit may include:non-latex glovesassortment of adhesive bandagesantibiotic ointmentsterile gauze pads in assorted sizesabsorbent compress dressingstweezersscissorsadhesive cloth tapeaspirin packets (81 mg each)First aid instruction booklet (NOTE: Customize your first aid kit to meet your individual and family needs.)A 3–5 day supply of bottled water and nonperishable foodPersonal hygiene itemsBlankets or sleeping bagsAn emergency kit in your car
Wind Storm Damage Prevention Tips
Winter is here! Now is the time to prepare so that you are ready when snow storms hit. Here are some helpful tips: Make sure your home heating sources are installed according to local codes and permit requirements.Make sure your home heating sources are clean and in working order.Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and window sills to keep cold air out.Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide an extra layer of insulation to keep cold air out.Consider buying emergency heating equipment, such as a wood or coal burning stove or an electric or kerosene heater. Stoves must be properly vented and in good working order. Dispose of ashes safely. Keep a supply of wood or coal on hand.Electric space heaters, either portable or fixed, must be certified by an independent testing laboratory. Plug a heater directly into the wall socket rather than using an extension cord and unplug it when it is not in use.Use a kerosene heater only if permitted by law in your area; check with your local fire department. Use only the correct fuel for your unit. Properly ventilate the area. Refuel the unit outdoors only, and only when the unit is cool. Follow all of the manufacturer's instructions.Consider storing sufficient heating fuel. Regular fuel sources may be cut off. Be cautious of fire hazards when storing any type of fuel.If you have a fireplace, consider keeping a supply of firewood or coal. Be sure the fireplace is properly vented and in good working order and that you dispose of ashes safely.Consider purchasing a portable generator in case of power outages.Consider purchasing flood insurance, if you live in a flood-prone area, to cover possible flood damage that may occur during the spring thaw. Homeowners' policies do not cover damage from floods. Ask your insurance agent about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) if you are at risk.
How to Clean the Exterior
Before you start cleaning your home after a fire, make sure it is structurally sound. Even if you’re working on the outside first, you want to have the following checked for strength and functionality:
- Outdoor living spaces – porches, decks, etc.
You can start cleaning the exterior surfaces with a power washer. If you don’t have access to that equipment, use the stiffest brush you can find and a mixture of water and borax or another safe cleaning solution.
Cleaning exterior surfaces by hand can take a significant amount of time unless the damaged area is small. The longer the soot and ash are allowed to sit on your home, the more likely it is to cause permanent damage. You should consider renting a power washer or hiring a professional if you’re dealing with a large area of damage.
After power washing, you can clean the gutters, porch, deck, sidewalks, driveway, and windows. All of these surfaces can collect dust and other debris from even a small house fire. You can use a power washer if you have it. Consider bringing in a team of professional cleaners to get this done quickly if you don’t have the proper equipment or manpower.
How to Clean After Fire Damage
There are three types of damage that you may need to clean after a home fire:
- Fire damage
- Smoke damage
- Water damage
Let’s break that down into a quick checklist that will give you an overview of the cleaning process:
- Carefully remove all debris.
- Remove any standing water.
- Repair or replace anything that shows signs of water damage.
- Remove smoke particles and soot from all areas of the home.
- Clean the vents to eliminate soot and smoke particles that could damage the lungs. Make sure to turn your HVAC system off soon after the fire. You don’t want to spread those particles through your ventilation system and into other areas of the home. A thorough cleaning of the system is needed if you think that has happened.
- Throw away clothing and household items that are beyond repair or that you can’t wash. That’s an overwhelming step, but remember that most things are replaceable.
- Eliminate the smoky aroma that tends to set in after a fire.
- Purify the air to improve air quality throughout the home.
You can follow this checklist to clean up most areas of the home in the aftermath of a fire. If you find any of these tasks too difficult or you don’t have time to handle a post-fire cleanup, you may need to contact our team of experienced professionals.
Inspecting the Interior Surfaces
The first step to cleaning the interior surfaces of your home after a fire is an inspection. Remove debris and trash as well as undamaged items that you want to keep. That should give you a clear view of the walls, ceiling, and floors to determine the extent of the damage.
You may need to remove standing water or use a large shop vacuum to eliminate loose soot and other debris. The cleaning process should start after you have a dry surface that is free of loose particles and burnt items.
If you see mold or other signs of serious water damage caused by the water used to put out the fire, you should contact our team for help. You want to restore your home to a healthy environment that is free of mold and ash.