(NewsUSA) - While the approach of summer signals sun and fun, it also marks the height of storm season.
And although summer storms can have devastating effects on homes and property, planning ahead can help.
"It doesn't matter if you live in a tornado path or in an area that receives little precipitation or severe weather activity. Weather patterns change quickly and preparation for any type of storm can be a difference maker," says Peter Duncanson, Director of Business Operations for ServiceMaster Restore.
"Safety is always the top priority, but be sure you have a plan in place for your family and pets, and practice it so there is no guess work when you have to put it into action," he adds.
Keep these tips in mind to be prepared for storms throughout the year:
- Before: Pay attention to storm watches and warnings on your local weather news channel or website. Also consider downloading the American Red Cross Emergency App, which provides severe weather alerts and steps to take in different emergency scenarios. Be sure you have important numbers stored in your phone, such as local emergency response agencies and the number to your homeowner's insurance carrier. In addition, know whom you would call if water or debris needs to be removed from your home.
Assemble an emergency preparedness kit for your home. Include any essential medications for all family members, along with first aid items such as bandages, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and gauze. Also stock several flashlights with extra batteries, as well as spare chargers for phones and other devices. Furthermore, include bottled water, a can opener, and ready-to-eat canned foods.
For your car, safety staples include water, a first aid kit, and a few blankets, as well as an umbrella, towels, and paper towels.
- During: If you are indoors, the safest place in your house is the innermost area. Avoid rooms along the outside of the house, and stay away from windows and doors. Ideally, stay on the first floor or in the basement, if possible.
Although lying in a bathtub can be a safe place to shelter, be sure to have cushions or a mattress on hand to protect yourself from falling debris in the bathroom. A closet or under the stairs can also be safe places, with pillows and blankets for protection.
- After: Once the storm has subsided, plan a designated meeting place for your family and let a friend or relative know the location. If you have pets, factor them into the plan.
Don't inspect your property until it is safe to leave the house. Watch for downed power lines, tree limbs, and other debris. Take photos to document damage, and contact a restoration company or your insurance company as soon as possible. Most weather-related home damage is not a do-it-yourself job; leave it to the experts.
For more information about storm preparation and recovery, visit ServiceMasterRestore.com.