Cape Dennison in Antarctica is the windiest place on earth, with top wind speeds clocking in at 240 kilometers per hour. Few North American property owners experience these eye-popping extremes but our planet is becoming breezier. In less than a decade, global average wind speeds have increased from 11.26 to 11.9 kilometers per hour. That might not sound like much, but researchers confirm that it’s a significant jump in a short timeframe. 

That’s great news for renewable energy providers but it’s a cautionary statement for property owners. Add in unpredictable seasonal storms and the message is clear and urgent: prepare property now to minimize wind damage, save money, protect people and avoid inconvenience. The following FAQs guide property owners through a smart and thorough preparation plan.

How do I get started? 

Start indoors by reviewing paperwork. Speak with your insurance representative and scan coverage documents to ensure your property – and valuable belongings stored on your property such as boats and equipment, for example – carries adequate insurance in case of wind damage. Make certain you also maintain an up-to-date inventory of your possessions. 

What steps are necessary for yards and grounds?

First, scan your property for items that are not properly secured. If possible, store these outdoor items inside when not in use. If storage isn’t feasible, secure these items permanently: anchor artwork, lawn and garden décor, signage and furniture. Don’t assume that heavy items won’t become windborne in severe conditions: picnic tables have been hefted and tossed into vehicles and structures in ordinary thunderstorms. Second, clean up the property, removing and discarding downed branches and debris, and keep the property clear throughout the year. Third, trim trees regularly and maintain landscaping.

How do I prepare buildings? 

Inspect building envelopes from the ground up for loose or worn materials. Fix loose shingles, flashing and siding. Check eavestrough and roofing systems, too, to ensure they are secured and intact because wind gusts quickly loosen materials that aren’t tightly fastened. Next, inspect smaller outbuildings to ensure they are properly anchored to their foundations; building engineers and construction experts can assist. Finally, inspect windows and doors, including garage doors. Reinforcing these areas with stronger materials is the best protection against wind damage.

Once I’ve completed all these preparation steps, what is important to know?

Our best recommendation is to create good habits that reduce the risk of wind damage. Never park vehicles under trees. Don’t stand near windows or stay outdoors in windstorms. Close garage doors every time. Keep in mind that wind events are far less predictable and harder to detect than most storm fronts. For instance, derechos – straight line windstorms that cause enormous devastation – can advance at 112 kilometers per hour. They may not give visual cues like darkening skies and smaller gusts that other storms do. In short, wind can happen at any time without warning so it’s best to be prepared at all times.