Tornadoes strike hard, and they strike fast. If you’ve lived in Oklahoma for any length of time, you know that tornado season can put fear into even the, strongest of hearts. So, your safest bet is to prepare your home before storm season comes rolling down the plains. But how exactly can you do that?

Follow these seven tips to prepare your home for tornado season.

  • Batten down the hatches – Door and window frames can loosen over time. High winds alone can whip doors and windows open, breaking them completely. Make sure the frames are secure, if not, then resealing, tightening or replacing screws is a good bet. If your windows and doors are broken, warped or weak, consider replacing them.
  • Watch out for flying missiles – Patio chairs and tables are great for relaxing outdoors, but they can also become zooming projectiles in a storm. Not only does this pose a risk for you, but for your home as well. Heavy patio furniture can crash through windows, doors and even walls. Before they become a danger, bolt them to your patio slab or brick. This will also prevent them from landing in your neighbor’s yard, two miles away.
  • Clear away the extra – Potted plants are heavy and can fly through windows during a storm. If you know that a storm is approaching, put heavy pots, garden tools, etc. in your garage until the storm passes. Walls can withstand quite a bit – windows, not so much. Anything that can fly through a window is a danger to you and your family.
  • Evaluate and strengthen – If you have additional structures on your property, such as storage buildings, decks, or pergolas, give them a close inspection. If they are structurally sound, then you are good. But if they are unstable in any way, consider repairing them and adding additional strength. Even weak fences can become a hazard in a tornado, so repairing them beforehand will not only help them withstand the high winds, but also keep them from flying into your home. If a structure is especially weak, consider tearing it down. New fences with metal posts can withstand a storm much better than an older fence with weak wooden posts.
  • Doctor your trees – Weak trees are the first thing to go in a violent storm. Have you seen pictures of splintered trees impaling homes after a tornado? It’s not pretty. Fortunately, pruning your trees is an easy fix. If you do it before tornado season. Check for weak or breaking branches and cut them off. Also, get rid of any dead branches that are lying on the ground. A good strong tree can withstand high winds, but weak ones cannot.
  • Have a roof inspection – Let’s face it, our roofs take a beating during storm season. But the better shape your roof is in, the better it will hold up to high winds. If you have loose shingles, or drooping gutters, you can bet you’ll have leaks, or pooling water, after heavy rains. It’s best to get those small roof repairs done before the rains hit. This will give your home extra protection from expensive repairs. Roof leaks are a pain to handle, it’s best if you throw a little precaution for roof repairs into your home prep.
  • Perform a storm shelter checkup – If you have a storm shelter (kudos if you do!), perform a quick reliability check. Newer shelters should be good to go, since they are tested and rated for safety, but older shelters should be carefully inspected. Especially, if they are outdoor shelters. Inspect them for possible cracks, or areas where water could seep in. Also, reinforce the hatch and make sure it still latches and unlatches properly. Clear out any insects that have called it home during the winter and make sure you have a safety kit on hand. If you don’t have a storm shelter, consider having one installed immediately. Storm shelters have become extremely affordable and are your best bet to survive a tornado. Nothing beats a storm shelter for safety. Nothing.

Preparing your home for a tornado is key to minimal damage for you and your home.

While tornado season has gotten a bad rap (for good reason), it doesn’t mean that your family and your home can’t survive intact. Prepping ahead of time can be done with minimal expense and time. Spending a weekend or two battening down your property is well worth it – for your family’s lives, and for your home as well.