While many people think high winds and tornadoes only impact the Midwest, every state in the country is vulnerable, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Each year thousands of high wind events strike the U.S. causing billions of dollars of damage and endangering the lives of millions.

High winds safety tips

In an automobile

  • Watch the weather. Weather services may issue high-wind watches, warnings, or advisories when winds make it difficult to drive. Expect winds to be worse in exposed places such as straight, open roads, bridges and overpasses, or between hills.
  • Be aware of high-profile vehicles. Large trucks, vans, buses, and those towing cargo are vulnerable to losing control or tipping over in high winds. They can also create turbulence for motorcycles and other small vehicles. Drivers should pay extra attention to the road and anticipate gusts in windy conditions.
  • Keep your distance. Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles to give yourself and other motorists time and space to avoid any debris in the road. Turn on your headlights to see better through dust, dirt, or snow that the wind kicks up.
  • Keep your hands firmly on the wheel. Heavy winds make it harder to steer and handle a vehicle, so keep a firm grip on the wheel. If you don’t feel comfortable driving, pull over to a safe place until the wind dies down.
  • Slow down. Driving slower than the posted speed limit helps lessen the dangers of wind and helps you better control the vehicle.

In your home

  • Keep your family and pets inside to prevent being injured by flying debris.
  • High winds and hail can shatter glass, so stay away from windows, skylights, and doors.
  • Keep drapes and blinds closed to prevent shattered glass from blowing in or flying around.
  • If you can do it safely, secure outdoor items. When high winds strike, patio furniture, lawn and garden equipment or other items can become flying debris that could damage your home.

Tips to prepare your home for high winds

  • Consider using permanent storm shutters if you live in an area where you will need to act quickly to protect your windows.
  • Reinforce your garage door. Because of the extreme tension in a garage door counterbalance system and the potential for additional wind impact, this is a job best left to a professional.
  • Remove or securely anchor any loose objects on your property that could be picked up and tossed by the wind. This includes trash cans, grills, and lawn or deck furniture.
  • Use the straps and ground anchors on manufactured homes to anchor outbuildings, especially small garden sheds that aren’t on a permanent foundation.
  • Remove large trees near your property that could topple into your home. Unless you’re a lumberjack, this is another job for a skilled contractor.

Preparation is essential when you’re looking to prevent costly home damages from a high wind. Protecting your home and property is no last-minute chore.

Find other ways to protect your family by making your home more resilient to severe weather by visiting the Institute for Business and Home Safety website at disastersafety.org.

Talk to us

Even with the best preparation, you can still sustain damage from unexpected events like windstorms. To report a wind damage claim, visit Wind Storm and Hurricane Damage Insurance Claims – Nationwide. You may also contact an agent today to protect your home with the right homeowners insurance for your needs.

Need to file a claim? Visit our claims center or call 1-800-421-3535.

Nationwide offers this information to help you make decisions that may help you mitigate your risk. Of course, we can't address every possible risk or guarantee these tips will work for you. However, we hope that you will consider which of these may help you in your efforts to protect your family and yourself.