As Texas moves out of March and into April, the threat of tornado season grows across the entire state, especially in the Gulf region. While tornadoes can and do happen any time of year in Texas, the time between late March through June is when twister activity really begins to pick up, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your family when severe weather strikes.
Before a Tornado Strikes
When you live in a tornado zone, being forewarned is being forearmed. Here are three steps that you should take to prepare yourself, while the weather is still calm:
- Be informed about the weather. Know your local weather station on the radio or television, and list or watch for news when the risk of severe weather is announced. You may even consider buying a NOAA Weather Radio. These special radios are often available for relatively modest prices, and are designed to automatically sound an alert when the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a broadcast alert.
- Have emergency supplies ready. Make a stash of emergency supplies in your home, and keep it in a location that’s known and easily accessible by the whole family. You can purchase a pre-made kit or build your own, but be sure to include items such as flashlights, a radio, spare batteries, first aid items, nonperishable food, and water. The Department of Homeland Security maintains a list of recommended emergency kit items for everyone.
- Know where to take shelter. The best protection is in a specially designed and certified safe room or storm shelter designed specifically for dangerous weather. You may install a safe room in your home, or there may be community-accessible shelters nearby. If neither is available, head for the lowest room in the house, a basement if possible, or a small, interior room with no windows.
By preparing yourself ahead of time, you’ll be able to better cope with an emergency when severe weather does strike in your area.
During a Severe Storm
When you receive notice that the National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch, it means that conditions in the watch area are right for tornado formation, so you should stay tuned to the weather. Check in with your family members, make sure your cellphone is charged and that you know where your supplies and nearest shelter location are.
Be prepared to move quickly if a watch turns into a warning. When a tornado warning is issued, it means that a tornado has been spotted and you and your family should take shelter immediately!
Dealing With the Aftermath of a Texas Tornado
Once the all-clear has been given, be careful when exiting your shelter location. Avoid using open flames, such as lighters or matches, until you’re sure that there are no gas leaks or flammable liquid spills. Check in with your loved ones, and seek medical attention if anyone is injured.
After making sure everyone is taken care of, homeowners should inspect their property for damage, both inside and out. Use a camera (or your cellphone) and take photos and video of any damage for your homeowner’s insurance. Take note of broken windows, cracked walls, roof damage, vehicular damage in the driveway, and damage to personal effects. Do what you can safely do to prevent further damage, such as using tarps to cover holes or boards to cover up windows.
Next, it’s time to contact your homeowner’s insurance company to begin the process of filing a storm damage claim.
Get Help With Your Claim
Even though you pay a premium for your insurance policy, the company may be reluctant to pay out the full value of your claim. Insurers do not make money by paying claims, and will often do everything in their power to minimize the amount of money that they pay you. In other words, if you’re not satisfied that its offer is as much as you should be paid, you’re probably right. In cases like these, an attorney can help you negotiate the right settlement, or if push comes to shove, file a lawsuit against the insurer for acting in bad faith.
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of Texas victims of unfair and unscrupulous behavior by insurance companies for decades, and is here to help you in your time of need. To speak to a legal professional about your situation, call, email, or use live chat to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today.