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How to Prepare for Summer Windstorms in Colorado

In our article Top Windiest and Stormiest Cities and Towns in Colorado, you would have noted with some concern that the top-ranked city, Akron, experienced 98-mph winds. Not only that, but the communities at the bottom of the list experienced 70-mph winds.

Those ferocious winds bring about significant property damage including downed trees, blown-in windows and doors, as well as downed power lines and the resultant loss of electrical power. As just one example, last year’s storm in Craig with 78-mph winds resulted in $300,000 in damage.

Property damage is certainly no fun. But it can be replaced or rebuilt. Damage to your family can’t readily be undone. So it’s absolutely essential to prepare for windstorms to protect your family as well as your property.

We’ve developed checklists to help you prepare, guide your actions during a storm, and what to do after the storm.

Windstorm Preparation

Here’s a starter listing of what to do now in preparation for windstorms in your community.

  • Trim trees. Dead branches and trees can easily become windborne missiles targeting your home. Get rid of the deadwood and trim back all tree branches that are near your home and certainly those that have grown above the roof.
  • Keep your roof in good repair. Any loose or missing shingles can be the start of further damage as well as the source of leaks and water damage. Consider installing a hail-resistant roof. 
  • Have backup fuel. A power loss during and after a windstorm is quite likely. Store extra propane fuel for your grill. A hot meal can bolster your spirits after the devastation of a windstorm and keep you and your family going until power is restored.
  • Buy an emergency generator. A small gas-powered generator can provide sufficient electricity to power your refrigerators, freezers, computers, and phones during a power outage. A dual-fuel generator can be particularly versatile, using either propane or gasoline. Testing the system well in advance of a storm is a wise move. It’s also a good idea to invest in a battery backup sump pump to help keep your basement or crawl space dry even if the power goes out.
  • Prepare for a power outage. The backup fuel along with an emergency generator are excellent ways to cope with a loss of electrical power. Also, locate your home’s circuit breaker or fuse box so you can disconnect power to avoid any power surges.
  • Connect with work and school emergency plans. Check your children’s school emergency plans so you’re ready to work with them should a storm hit during a school day. Also, coordinate your efforts with any emergency plans associated with your place of work.
  • Secure outdoor items. Patio furniture, picnic tables, benches, and other items can be picked up by the wind and propelled forcefully into your home or your neighbors’ homes. Store them before the storm hits.
  • Protect your vehicles. Park your cars in the garage to protect them from windblown debris, including falling trees and branches. If power is lost, make sure you know how to manually open the garage door.
  • Add a weather app to your phone. A weather app can not only keep you informed on the storm’s progress but can also provide alerts and storm warnings.
  • Provide an emergency shelter. Designate an area in your home for an emergency shelter. This could be a first-floor interior room away from windows or an area in your basement. Stock it with an emergency supply kit.

Older adults can have additional challenges that aren’t often considered during the planning. According to the NCOA emergency preparedness for older adults needs to account for physical limitations and medical needs. Don’t neglect the preparation you’ll need to stay safe during windstorms.

Emergency Supply Kit

Not only will an emergency shelter within your home prove extremely valuable during any storms but taking the time to pull together an emergency supply kit will also prove to be enormously helpful. Here’s a list to get you started.

  • Three days’ supply of food for the family and any pets
  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Candles and matches or lighter
  • Flashlight and lots of batteries
  • Battery-powered cell phone charger
  • Sleeping bags and pillows
  • Blankets
  • Medications and prescription drugs
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Extra cash

It’s also a good idea to have a similar kit ready to go on the road in case you need to evacuate your home. You may also need to add clothing and personal hygiene items.

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What to Do During a Windstorm

When the windstorm arrives, all your preparation will come into play to help you ride it out in safety and some small level of comfort.

  • Go to your emergency shelter. Gather your family along with your emergency kit and go to your home’s emergency shelter area. 
  • If you’re on the road, seek shelter. Find a safe place to park. Underground parking garages are a real find in these situations. Bridges and overpasses are not the best places to stop. High winds can cause real problems in those areas.
  • Monitor the situation. Whether you’re at home in your emergency shelter or parking in a safe place, monitor the situation with radio or via the weather app. Even though it may appear to be safe outside, windstorms can appear very quickly. Only venture outside when you’re absolutely sure the storm has passed.

What to Do After a Windstorm

After the storm has passed, there can still be a considerable danger to you and your family.

  • Watch for natural gas leaks. If you smell gas, leave your home at once and call the gas company.
  • Keep away from downed power lines. Don’t go near downed electrical lines. Report them at once to your utility company.
  • Keep refrigerator doors closed. Keeping them closed can keep food frozen for up to two days when power has been lost.
  • Fire up your emergency generator. If you added an electrical generator, fire it up and start to power your refrigerator and freezer. Use it to charge your phone so you don’t lose this vital communication tool.
  • Assess the damage to your home. Inspect the roof, siding, windows, doors, and the outdoors, including trees. If your home has any structural damage, you’ll need to evacuate at once.
  • Contact your insurance company. If you discover damage, get in contact with your insurance company to begin the claims process. Make sure you record all the damage using your phone to take photos.

Windstorms in Our Hometowns

In our article on Windiest Cities in Colorado, we dug into the numbers for the locations in Colorado where we have offices.

In Denver, thunderstorm winds hit 70 mph during a storm on June 6, 2020. That storm included straight-line winds and a rare derecho. Damage included toppled trees and roof damage, along with 208,000 homes without power. Injuries included a man and his nine-year-old daughter hit by a fallen tree. 

Colorado Springs is in El Paso County where Calhan reported 75-mph thunderstorm winds. Colorado Springs Airport reported 54-mph winds. Both of these occurred during that massive thunderstorm on June 6, 2020.

We’re hopeful that windstorms won’t damage your home’s foundation. But rain and even hail often arrive with those storms. That’s a ferocious combination that can find its way into your basement if there are any cracks or if the water accumulates around your home.

We recommend that you consult the professionals at Groundworks for a free inspection and repair estimate to identify any issues with your foundation, basement, or crawl space that need attention in preparation for windstorms.