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If you own a house that is located along the ocean or bay or within a coastal community, you've most likely had your share of windstorm warnings, and you may have even suffered the effects of a storm. Although you can't stop storms from occurring, with a little preparation, you can protect your family, your home and your possessions from their damaging effects. Because the best way to fight back is to be ready.

How to Prepare Before a Windstorm

  • Stay informed of approaching storms by monitoring Environment Canada public weather alerts or local television and radio stations for updates and evacuations.
  • Become familiar with your community's disaster preparedness plan and know your evacuation route. Select a common meeting place or single point-of-contact for all family members. If you have pets, have a plan for their evacuation as well.
  • Fill your gas tank and charge your cellphone so you're ready in case of evacuation. Be sure to bring your phone's charger with you.
  • Keep important documents, such as legal papers, birth certificates, marriage license, financial papers and insurance policy information, as well as valuables such as jewellery, in a safety deposit box or in a bolted safe in an interior closet in your home.
  • Maintain an emergency supply kit that will sustain you and your family for a 72-hour period. This kit should include flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, nonperishable food, bottled water, cash, blankets, clothing and toiletries. Replace and/or refresh items in your kit every six months.
  • Trim large trees and shrubs. Bring outside patio and lawn furniture, potted plants and outdoor bicycles and toys indoors. Close and secure all awnings and tie down any other loose items that may become projectiles in a high wind.
  • Make sure windows, doors and skylights are protected with appropriate shutters or impact-resistant glass. Plywood can be used as last-minute protection.
  • Regularly test your gas-powered generator and have plenty of fuel to ensure that it's ready when you need it.
  • If you are a collector, make a list of all works in your collection. Include notes about any existing damage, as well as the condition of the frames and bases.
  • Secure all interior wall hangings and be sure that art hung on outside walls is spaced from the wall. If any works are taken off the wall, place them in an interior room at least 15 cm off the floor.
  • Bring outdoor sculptures inside or secure outside in burlap or blankets tied with rope.
  • If you're located in a potential flood zone, move your car to higher ground or park it in your garage, carport or against the house to protect one side from flying debris. Do not park under trees, power lines or in low-lying areas.
  • If you do park your car in the garage, park it against the doors to keep them from buckling inward and potentially blowing them off the tracks.
  • Keep your family emergency kit as well as booster cables and tools, tire repair kit/spare tire, matches, flashlights, shovel and traction mats in your car.
  • Keep a copy of your auto insurance policy with you, in a waterproof container.

What to Keep in Mind for New Construction

If you are building a new home or addition in a windstorm-prone area or rebuilding after damage from a storm, understand that choices made during the construction process can go a long way in helping to protect your home and property from extensive damage. Here are some things to consider:

  • Install impact-resistant storm shutters on all windows, doors and skylights.
  • Install entry doors that have at least three hinges and a deadbolt that fully secures into the doorjamb. Entry doors should be constructed of solid wood or hollow metal.
  • The roof covering and structure should be properly installed to withstand high winds. Framing of the home should include all building code-approved storm straps at the roof to top wall connection that are properly secured and braced.
  • Garage doors should be designed for impact resistance or reinforced to withstand high winds. Retrofit kits and storm bars are available to help strengthen garage doors.
  • Consider installing a gas-powered backup generator to power your appliances in the event of a power outage during and after a storm. Being able to run a sump pump during a power outage may help you prevent water damage.

What to Do During a Windstorm

  • Stay informed of approaching storms by monitoring Environment Canada public weather alerts and local television and radio stations for severe weather updates.
  • Turn off utilities and evacuate if requested by authorities.
  • Identify a "shelter" room in your home. This enclosed area should be on the first floor, in the central part of the house and with no windows. Avoid all unprotected windows and doors until the storm passes.
  • Appliances, including personal computers, should be unplugged and stored away in cabinets or interior closets.
  • Move appliances and household fixtures away from exterior door and window openings.
  • Avoid driving on coastal or low-lying roads, and use extreme caution when driving across flooded roadways.
  • Keep away from fallen power lines. If you are in an automobile that is hit by fallen wires, do not leave the vehicle. If you must leave the vehicle, jump out and off with both feet so you are completely clear of the vehicle before you touch the ground.

What to Do After a Windstorm

  • Beware of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the proper authorities.
  • Use your emergency supply of water or boil any water before drinking until official word is given that the water is safe.
  • Do not operate a gas, propane or charcoal grill or generator indoors or near ventilation areas.
  • If your home has sustained damage, take steps to prevent further damage by covering the roof with tarps and covering windows with plywood.
  • If you have wet or damaged artwork, blot off excess moisture, remove wet backings, mats and frames and then keep in an air-conditioned room. Contact a professional conservator for assistance as soon as possible.
  • Remove any protective wrapping on outdoor objects and rinse with clean water.
  • Dust items left indoors with a soft brush, and wipe metal objects with a soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Be aware of fallen lines, debris in the roads and other hazards. Make sure you have a spare tire in case you get a flat tire due to displaced debris.
  • When driving, pay attention to any other post-storm changes, such as missing signs or broken traffic lights. Be cautious of any moving water before driving through it as the current could carry your car away and possibly trap you inside.
  • Wash any debris from your car and take photos of any damages.
  • If you’re a Chubb client and you suffered damage from a windstorm, click here to begin the claims process.