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How to Help Your Home Recover From Tornado Damage

Tornado damaging a house’s roof

Has your house been affected by a tornado? Follow this checklist for inspecting damage to the exterior of your home and conducting safety checks for major appliances and gas leaks.

You’ve been through a tornado. Your family is safe, and your house is, thankfully, standing. But you still need to check for damage to your home’s exterior and internal systems.

First things first: Wear protective clothing and thick-soled shoes while inspecting your home in case of broken glass, exposed nails or potentially toxic spills. Be cautious and don’t remove heavy debris yourself.

Here’s what to look out for and how to deal with what you might find.

Home Exterior Post-Tornado Inspection Checklist

  • Check for downed tree limbs, flying furniture and other debris that may have done damage to your roof, siding or landscaping.
  • Take photos of property damage for insurance claims.
  • Check for dented or missing siding and damage to the substrate.
  • Keep a list of what could be repaired and what needs to be replaced. (If your home’s exterior didn’t fare well, you might consider upgrading.)
  • Do what you can from the ground to inspect your roof: Are shingles missing? Is flashing torn? Are gutters hanging?
  • If possible, secure a tarp over any open areas to avoid further damage to your interior. Call a roofing professional if the damage is extensive.
  • Assess the damage to the landscape. Shrubs, trees and turf can all be replanted, but when you do this, remember to keep things tidy. Trim overhanging or dead limbs, which could damage your roof during the next storm.

Home Interior Post-Tornado Inspection Checklist

  • If you smell gas — the scent of rotten eggs — or hear a hissing sound, you could have a gas leak. Open a window and immediately get as far from the home as possible. (If you think there might be a gas leak, don’t light matches, turn on electrical switches, use your appliances or do anything on your cell phone. If there’s a broken gas line, these activities could cause sparks to ignite the gas.)
  • Shut off the main gas valve. When it comes time to restore your gas service, never do so yourself — have a professional come out.
  • If there’s a power outage, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.
  • When it comes to your appliances, don’t plug anything in until you’ve assessed each one. Is there physical damage, broken power cords or gas lines, or damaged or missing exhaust vents? Remember to consult your owner’s manuals first for information on how to properly care for your specific appliances.
  • Your safety is priority. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable assessing the situation, don’t hesitate to call on the help of a professional.
  • If you don’t see any damage, plug in the appliance and check that indicator lights and displays are working. If they’re not, unplug the appliance and call a technician.

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