How to Stay Safe During Hail and Tornado Season

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Tornado over Colorado (Photo: @hailstorm1985 via Twenty20)
According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, about 1,200 tornadoes occur in the United States annually. On the Gulf coast, hail and tornado season is in early spring, while the Great Plains experiences it slightly later (from May into June). The Upper Midwest and Northern Plains have a hail and tornado season from June to July, and the season is slightly later for the westernmost states. If you’re in an area affected by frequent hail and tornados, here’s how to stay safe.

General precautions for hail and tornado season

Prior to the onset of hail and tornado season, there are two chief things to do. First, have your home inspected to ensure it can hold up to hail and high winds. While it’s impossible to completely proof your home from a powerful tornado, you can address any obvious repairs revealed in inspection that can help it withstand hail- and wind-related threats. The installation of impact-resistant windows, for instance, is a good way to increase your home’s storm readiness.
Second, you should check your homeowner’s policy for any updates or changes since you last paid your annual premium. While coverage for hail and tornado damage is standard in most policies, you want to make sure the limits are in line with the current value of your home. It’s also a good time to evaluate your deductibles in relation to your limits, as your finances may have changed in the last year.

Hail-specific safety precautions

Keep your cars in the garage or under a carport. When running errands or at work, seek out a covered parking deck. That way, your car is protected from costly hail damage when you’re not driving it.
If outside, seek shelter immediately. Once indoors, turn off nonessential electronics and electricity. Hail frequently precedes thunderstorms and lightning. Electrical current from lightning can travel along wires, which could be fatal with a person on the receiving end of that current.

Tornado-specific safety precautions

Even in the absence of a siren, nature can warn you when a tornado is imminent. The sky is a classic indicator, with tornadoes being more likely in dark or greenish skies with low clouds. You might even hear a roar akin to a train that precedes a tornado. If you do, do not wait for confirmation of your tornado suspicions—take cover.
When taking cover, select the lowest-lying level of your home. Basements are ideal, but the first floor is always a better choice than the second. Find the area most situated in the center of your home, maximizing your protection on all sides. Steer clear of windows and doors, and cover yourself with blankets or even a mattress if possible to protect yourself from flying debris.
Monitor the weather if possible to stay abreast of the latest conditions and threats. Do not move from your chosen shelter until sure that the tornado danger has passed.