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Time to get your home prepared for severe weather

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety simulates severe weather in their lab, and has tips for how to make your home more resilient.

CONNECTICUT, USA — This is severe weather preparedness week in New England.

It’s the time of year to start thinking about thunderstorms, tornadoes, and more.

In fact, a tornado hit Kent on April 21, 2021, marking the earliest tornado on record in Connecticut.

We have all heard of storm chasers, but you may not know there are researchers who simulate wild weather in a lab, to learn how our homes and buildings can hold up in the most violent conditions.

"We really turn the knobs on mother nature in a laboratory setting," Dr. Ian Giammanco, the lead research meteorologist for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), studies the impact wind, hail and even wildfires can have on property.

"Hail is 60 to 80 percent of the damage that severe weather causes... annoying if you are a homeowner, but also a big dollar loss," Giammanco says. 

RELATED: How much has the climate warmed since the first Earth Day in 1970?

IBHS research shows projects around the house, both big and small, can help strengthen your home and reduce the chance of costly property damage caused by heavy rain, hail, and powerful winds. 

To get your home ready for severe weather, the first step is documenting what you have.

RELATED: How much has the climate warmed since the first Earth Day in 1970?

"Take your phone out, walk around your home, do a home inventory… take pictures of all your stuff… so if something happens and you have to file an insurance claim, you have a really good record of what you have," Giammanco suggests.

IBHS shares the following Thunderstorm Ready guide, six tips to follow to make your home more resistant to severe weather.

6 Tips to Make Your Home Thunderstorm Ready

  • Trim Trees. Trees in your yard could pose a threat to your home during high winds so have them trimmed by an arborist, removing branches that overhang the house and dead, dying or diseased trees.
  • Get a Home Lightning Surge Protector. Install a home lightning surge protector to keep electrical equipment safe from power surges that can damage expensive electronics.
  • Install Protective Screens on HVAC Units.  In hail-prone regions, install screens around your home’s air conditioning unit to help reduce the chance of costly hail damage to coils and fins.
  • Select a Wind-Rated Garage Door. Garage doors are one of the most vulnerable parts of the home in high winds. High winds can push a garage door inward, allowing pressure to push up on the roof and surrounding walls causing a cascade of structural damage to your entire home. Wind-rated garage doors have been tested to withstand these pressures. If you’re not sure whether your garage door is wind-rated, it’s best to purchase a new one labeled showing it is designed to withstand the winds likely in your area.
  • Upgrade to Steel Gutters & Downspouts. Steel is stronger than its more popular counterparts, vinyl and aluminum. In hail-prone regions, upgrade to steel products, which are more durable against hail impacts and less likely to leak.
  • Replace Your Aging or Damaged Roof. Your roof is your home’s first line of defense against severe weather. You won’t replace it often, but when it is time, ask your roofing contractor to follow the FORTIFIED standard. That's an installation method shown in lab and real-world tests to protect against winds of up to 130 mph and damaging water intrusion.  Also, pick shingles rated Good or Excellent in the IBHS shingle performance ratings to reduce damage from hail. 

Ryan Breton is a meteorologist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at rbreton@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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