Hail season typically lasts from May through October across Canada, with the Prairie provinces and Ontario seeing severe storms that can create torrential downpours, high winds, and hailstones as small as pebbles or as big as baseballs.

Since hailstones of all sizes can fall from the sky as fast as 100 kilometres per hour, it’s no surprise that these chunks of ice can cause significant damage to your property, in addition to water and wind damage. But don’t let these storms catch you off guard — learn how to proactively protect yourself and your property before, during, and after a hailstorm.

How to prepare before a hailstorm

Hailstorms often strike with little warning. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and your home before a hailstorm hits:

  • Keep an eye on the local weather forecast. Watch for hail or thunderstorm warnings in your area so you can make sure you’re safe at home and can take some last-minute precautions, like moving your car into your garage and bringing flowerpots and patio furniture indoors.
  • Keep the exterior of your home in tip-top shape year-round, but especially during hail season. A little maintenance goes a long way to protect your home against hail damage or related wind and water damage. To keep your home hailstorm-ready:
    • Secure your air conditioning unit by covering it with a thick canvas or adding a hail guard
    • Have damaged areas of your roof repaired as soon as you notice them
    • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed and remove any weak branches that could fall on your home
    • Clean debris from your gutters and eavestroughs regularly and make sure your downspouts are facing away from your house
    • Make sure the soil around the perimeter of your home is sloped away from your home’s foundation

Hail season typically lasts from May through October across Canada. If you live in an area prone to hailstorms, complete these maintenance tasks around your home before hail shows up in the forecast.

  • Prepare your windows. Consider applying window safety film to prevent glass from shattering or installing shutters to keep glass contained. For a long-term solution, consider impact-resistant storm shutters or adding a protective glazing to windows, skylights, and sliding doors.
  • Create an emergency preparedness plan for your household and put together an emergency kit.
  • Review your home and car insurance policies to make sure you have the coverage you need. Hail coverage may not be included in your standard home and car insurance policies, so if you live in an area that’s prone to hailstorms, ask your broker if hail coverage is available to you. It’s important to review your policy and make changes before a storm is in the forecast — if you add the coverage when a storm has already started rolling in, your insurer may deny your claim if your property is damaged.

How to stay safe during a hailstorm

Wherever you are when a hailstorm hits, take some steps to protect yourself:

If you’re outdoors during a hailstorm

  • Try to find shelter immediately. If you’re stuck outdoors and have nowhere to go, crouch down, face away from the wind, and protect your head and neck with your arms.
  • Lightning can accompany hailstorms. Avoid tall objects such as large trees, towers, metal fences, and poles.

If you’re indoors during a hailstorm

  • Close and lock the windows and doors in your home. Draw the curtains and blinds to protect you from shattered glass, and stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
  • In the case of a power outage, unplug electronics and appliances to avoid damage from a power surge.

If you’re driving during a hailstorm

  • Find a safe location and pull over, ideally in a covered area like a parking garage.
  • Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself in case your vehicle’s windows shatter.
  • Hail can block storm drains and create flash flood conditions. As you make your way home, avoid driving through flooded intersections or large puddles.

Did you know hail can fall as fast as 100 kilometers per hour? If you’re outdoors during a hailstorm and can’t find shelter, crouch down, face away from the wind and protect your head and neck with your arms.

What to do after a hailstorm

Hailstorms typically last anywhere from a few minutes to 15 minutes. Once you think the storm has passed:

  • Assess the damage. While you walk around your property, make an inventory of damaged items, and take photographs before cleaning up. This can make it easier for your insurance company to process your claim.
  • Contact your group’s broker or your insurer’s 24-hour claims line if you need to make a claim. Be prepared to provide important details about the damage to your home or to your car.

Sometimes damage happens during a hailstorm, even when you’ve taken all the right precautions. To learn how your home and auto insurance policies could protect you in the event of hail damage, talk to your group’s licensed broker today.

Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter to help your neighbours stay safe and avoid property damage next time a hailstorm hits.