Your home protects you from the elements, but heavy rains can weaken that protection. With a little maintenance and a lot of vigilance, it’s not hard to stay safe and dry.
Rainstorms are a fact of life in many areas of the country, and they help keep things green, even if they keep you inside. But when they get heavy, it’s time to start thinking about the potential impact all that water has on your home. The first step is finding and fixing any immediate problems as soon as it’s safe to do so. Then, you’ll want to take measures to prevent those problems from happening during the next downpour!
Where is all that rain going? Your roof and gutters form a key line of defense for your home - and in a storm, they’re vulnerable, because so many things can damage them. Trees, hail, and other objects can create weaknesses that might lead to leaks in your roof, so check for missing shingles and other issues. And keep your gutters clear so all that water drains properly.
Are you checking everywhere? Water dripping from the ceiling is hard to miss. Water in your crawl space, however, can easily go undetected because hardly anyone ever checks there. Don’t forget to look down there after a storm (or have a professional do it) to make sure everything is nice and dry. If you do see moisture, you’ll want to get it out with a sump pump as soon as possible.
And don’t just look up - another place to check is your home’s exterior, whether it’s siding, brick, or another material. Weak spots can be hard to see, so look at various times of the day in different lighting conditions.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep the elements out, too.
What about around your property? Storm water has to go somewhere, and if your property doesn’t drain well, or if runoff goes toward your foundation, you could have problems. So watch for patterns, and grade property so it drains away from your home if possible. Always be wary of hillsides and tilting trees after heavy storms, because the land might not be stable.
And don’t forget to keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris. This can prevent flooding both on the streets and your own property.
What should you do during the storm? During powerful storms, stay inside. This is not the time to check your roof, your exterior, or your property unless there’s an emergency and you know it’s safe to go out. Monitor your interior, making sure no water is getting in. If it is, do what you can to alleviate the situation in the moment, even if it means just placing something under a leak to collect the water. For more serious problems, though, remember that safety is the most important thing. If your basement is flooding, for example, don’t go down there - you could be trapped and even drown.
Thankfully, powerful storms only hit once in a while. Preparing for them, however, should be on your mind a lot more frequently, because the next one could be tomorrow.
A lot of people don’t realize that damage from floods is excluded in their homeowners insurance policy. That’s likely a big reason why a 2016 Insurance Institute of America survey showed that just 12% have flood insurance — many might think their homeowners policy covers them already.
So why isn’t it covered? After all, insurance is supposed to protect you from the bad things that can happen to your home, and a flood can be particularly devastating.
Before we go any further, it is important to know that your homeowners insurance does cover a lot of those bad things that can happen — including some that you might even think of as “flooding.” But there is a big difference, insurance-wise, between “water damage” and “flood damage.” Water damage, for example, is when a pipe bursts in your home. Your homeowners policy covers that. What isn’t covered is the type of flooding that occurs when a body of water outside your home overflows to a point where it enters your home.
A question of financial health
Flooding isn’t covered by standard homeowners policies because it simply doesn’t make financial sense for insurance companies. And it’s not just about profits — companies need to remain financially healthy in order to pay claims and provide the protection promised to policyholders.
Before 1950, homeowners insurance used to cover flooding, but over time, the astronomical losses incurred from floods became too much of a burden. And by the early 1960s, all private insurance companies stopped covering flood damage because the risk was too high. This forced homeowners to bear these losses, which was an untenable situation; it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for the average homeowner to pay the entire cost of rebuilding their home.
What are your options?
The government eventually stepped in to offer a solution, providing disaster aid to homeowners and ultimately establishing the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968. Depending on where your home is located, you might be required to purchase flood insurance. And some lenders require it even in lower-risk areas: More than 20% of flood claims come from outside of known flood zones, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The government program is somewhat limited, however. It is available only in participating communities, and it offers only up to $350,000 in coverage — limits are $250,000 for the house structure and $100,000 for the contents of the house. That’s why many private companies also offer additional insurance, known as “excess coverage,” on top of the flood insurance the government offers.
Do you need flood insurance? If you’re not in an area where it is required, it still might be worth considering. Your local independent agent can answer your questions easily and help you decide what is right for you.
Having a flat tire when driving is always a problem. But experiencing a flat or blowout while traveling on an interstate highway or other high-speed roadway can present special dangers. The National Safety Council offers these tips for coping with tire trouble:
At the first sign of tire trouble, grip the steering wheel firmly.
Don't slam on the brakes.
Let the car slow down gradually by taking your foot off the gas pedal.
Work your vehicle toward the breakdown lane or, if possible, toward an exit.
If it is necessary to change lanes, signal your intentions to drivers behind and do so smoothly and carefully, watching your mirrors and the traffic around you very closely.
Steer as your vehicle slows down. It is better to roll the car off the roadway (when you have slowed to 30 miles per hour) and into a safe place than it is to stop in traffic and risk a rear-end or side collision from other vehicles.
When all four wheels are off the pavement—brake lightly and cautiously until you stop.
Turn your emergency flashers on.
It's important to have the car well off the pavement and away from traffic before stopping, even if proceeding to a place of safety means rolling along slowly with the bad tire flapping. You can drive on a flat if you take it easy and avoid sudden moves. Don't worry about damaging the tire. It is probably ruined anyway.
Once off the road, put out reflectorized triangles behind your vehicle to alert other drivers. Keep your emergency flashers on. If you know how to change a tire, have the equipment and can do it safely without being near traffic, change the tire as you normally would.
Remember that being safe must take precedence over your schedule or whatever other concerns you may have. Changing a tire with traffic whizzing past can be nerve-wracking at best and dangerous at worst. Therefore, it may be best to get professional help if you have a tire problem or other breakdown on a multi-lane highway.
Raise your hood and tie something white to the radio antenna or hang it out a window so police officers or tow truck operators will know that you need help.
DO NOT stand behind or next to your vehicle. If possible, stand away from the vehicle and wait for help to arrive.
All interstate highways and major roads are patrolled regularly. Also, some highways have special "call-for-help" phones. If you have a cell phone you can call right from the roadside. It is inadvisable to walk on a multi-lane highway. However, if you can see a source of help and are able to reach it on foot, try the direct approach by walking but keeping as far from traffic as possible.
These are the most important things to remember when dealing with a flat tire on the highway:
DO NOT stop in traffic.
Get your vehicle completely away from the roadway before attempting to change a tire.
Tackle changing a tire only if you can do so without placing yourself in danger.
Finally, the Council recommends that you have a qualified mechanic check your vehicle after having a flat tire to be sure there is no residual damage from the bad tire or the aftermath of the flat.
From our offices in Weatherford, Texas, we serve clients anywhere in the State of Texas, though the following areas are geographically closest to us: the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Johnson, Parker and Hood and the cities of Arlington, Bedford, Brock, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Decatur, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Granbury, Grapevine, Hurst, Keller, Mansfield, Millsap, Mineral Wells, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Watauga, Weatherford, and White Settlement.