23 Jul Hail Safety
Hail may feel like a rare occurrence, but there are actually about 5,600 hailstorms in the U.S. every year, based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. Each of these little balls of ice is known to cause quite a lot of damage and safety hazards! Learning how to prepare for a hail storm can save lives and minimize a hail storm’s damage.
What is Hail?
First, snow-like particles form in subfreezing air at the top of a thunderstorm. (Yes, even in the middle of summer, the tops of thunderstorms are below freezing). These small hailstones grow within the clouds as more water freezes and attach to them. The hailstones are suspended within the clouds by strong winds that push up into the storm. Finally, when hailstones grow too heavy to be suspended by the wind, gravity causes them to fall.
What’s the difference between hail, sleet, and freezing rain?
Sleet forms during winter storms, while hail is a warm-season type of precipitation. Unlike how hail is formed, sleet forms when falling snow melts in a warm layer and then refreezes into ice as it falls through a cold layer.
Freezing rain occurs when the air temperature is above freezing, but the ground temperature is at or below freezing temperatures. Snow melts as it falls down through the warm air, but once these rain drops reach the surface they refreeze into sheets of ice. Unlike hail, the droplets of freezing rain are not frozen ice while in the air.
Protect your property year-round
- Have your roof inspected every three years or so.
- Consider hail guards for HVAC equipment.
- Have your HVAC system regularly serviced.
- Consider installing protective screens over skylights.
Before a storm arrives, during, and after a hail storm
Before a storm arrives:
- If you can, store your fleet vehicles in more than one location to spread risk.
- If you can, park your vehicles in an indoor garage or under a protected covering.
During a storm:
- Stay indoors and make sure all window covers are intact in case of window breakage.
- Don’t inspect property damage until the storm has passed.
- If you drive into a hail storm:
- Stay inside your vehicle, pull over to a safe place out of traffic lanes, and stop driving.
- Keep your car angled so the hail hits the front of your car. Windshields are reinforced to withstand pelting objects while side windows and back glass are not.
- Lie down if possible. Keep your back to the window and cover yourself with clothes or a blanket if you can.
Once the storm has passed:
- Examine all outdoor glass surfaces, building walls, and the roof.
- Check your HVAC equipment, especially damage to the condensing coils from hail denting the exchange fins.
What do I do if I have hail damage to my home?
If you’ve experienced damage to your home as a result of a hail storm, be sure to give your Sava Insurance agent a call. Take detailed pictures and videos of the damages, and try to mitigate further damages. For example, if hail broke a window, take pictures of the damage to the window and any items inside the home that also experienced damage as a result, and then do your best to cover the window to maintain the condition of the items once it’s safe.
Visit our Hail & Your Home blog for more information!
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for the management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.