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Hailstorms: Protect Yourself and Your Property

Ice pellets on the sidewalk and grass

There have been reports of hailstones as large as baseballs hitting regions of Canada, but even at much smaller sizes hail can be dangerous and can cause extensive damage. This isn’t surprising, considering hailstones fall to earth from about 9,000 metres and, according to Environment Canada, can reach speeds of over 100 km/hour before they hit the ground, or anything on it.

Hail can dent vehicles, leave pockmarks in siding, destroy windows and even roofs, which can lead to water intrusion that can damage ceilings, walls, and personal possessions.  While you may not be able to stop a hailstorm from damaging your property, you may be able to reduce the amount of damage a storm will do. We’ve compiled a list to help you protect your family and property.

Before a Storm

Inside Your Home

  • Create an Emergency Preparedness Plan with your family.
  • Consider covering your windows with protective film, which may prevent glass from shattering if window panes are broken.
  • Use surge arrestors and suppressors to help protect your electronics from lightning strikes on nearby power lines.

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Outside

  • Trim and maintain trees and shrubbery in your back and front yards to remove weak branches that could potentially damage your home.
  • Always keep eavestroughs, downspouts, and storm drains clear to allow for proper drainage. During storms, large hail stones can clog drains which may lead to localized flooding, so it’s important to start out with a clear pathway for water.
  • Get your roof inspected regularly and repair issues as required when the weather is favourable.
  • Hire a professional roofing contractor if your roof needs replacing. Ask your contractor about different types of shingles that are available.  There are some types of shingles that can withstand harsher hail damage than others. Impact-resistant roof coverings could save you trouble and money in the long run.
  • Move barbecue, lawn furniture, and other valuable property into sheltered areas when they are not in use.

Your Vehicle

  • If storms are in the forecast, put cars, boats, RVs and other vehicles into a garage, covered parking lot, or other protected area.
  • If covered parking isn’t available, cover vehicles with thick blankets — paying particular attention to the hood, roof and trunk, as they’re often the most susceptible to hail damage.

During A Storm

Indoors

  • Remaining indoors is your best bet for staying protected when a storm strikes.
  • Stay away from windows and skylights as large hailstones can shatter windows.
  • Do not make contact with metal objects such as pipes, sinks, or other potential conductors of electricity in case there is electrical activity during the storm.
  • Unplug televisions, digital clocks, and other electrical appliances that do not have surge protectors. Check out our tip sheet on what you need to know to handle a power outage.

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Outdoors

  • If you’re outside when a storm strikes, find shelter immediately. Large enclosed structures tend to be safer than small open ones, like gazebos.
  • If lightning strikes, crouch down and put your feet together. Do not lie down. You want to minimize contact with the ground.  Avoid water, high ground, isolated trees, and open spaces.
  • If you’re in your vehicle when a hailstorm strikes:
    • Seek cover under an overpass, a gas station, or some other covered location, but avoid parking under trees as they could fall onto the vehicle.
    • If you can’t find cover nearby, pull off the road and bring your vehicle to a complete stop. If possible, angle the car so that hail hits the reinforced windshield rather than the less durable side windows and back glass. Stay in the vehicle, but keep your head away from windows, do not touch metal objects, and cover yourself with a blanket if available to protect against falling debris.

After a Storm

When conditions are safe:

  • Window damage is usually the most easily identifiable damage to your home. Inspect your windows for cracked glass and broken seals.
  • Check your gutters because they get dents and dimples easily. If your gutters appear to be damaged, there is a good chance there is also damage on your roof.  If you suspect roof damage, call a roofing professional to take a look.
  • If there is damage to your home, locate your homeowner’s insurance policy and call your insurance provider. Be ready to provide them with details on the date and time of loss, damaged items, and if possible, photos or video of the damage.

Become familiar with your community’s severe weather warning system and make sure every member of your family knows what to do in case severe weather hits.  In addition to your family’s Emergency Preparedness Plan, learn about the emergency plans at your workplace, as well as at your children’s school and/or daycare.

For more information on how you can protect yourself from severe weather, visit the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction.

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