Ward, Hayden

What To Do If A Tornado Strikes Your Vacation Rental Property

Tornado Precautions for Short-term rental owners

Tornadoes are natural disasters that can leave devastating impacts on affected homes and communities. During peak tornado season — between March and May — storms that produce tornadoes can develop quickly and with little warning. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what to do before, during and after a tornado strikes for you and your guests to stay safe at your vacation rental property.

Before a Tornado

There are some simple steps you can take to protect your short-term rental property and guests from tornadoes:

  • Build an emergency kit and develop a guest communication plan.
  • Monitor your cellphone, the radio and the television for the latest information regarding local tornado risks. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.

If you see any danger signs or an approaching storm, be prepared to take shelter immediately and let your guests know.

Emergency Kit Preparation

Natural disasters — like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes — can strike with little or no warning. It’s important to create an emergency kit in case you need to evacuate the property or if your guests get trapped inside for an extended period.

To help evacuate quickly, keep the following items in a grab-and-go emergency kit at your rental property:

  • First-aid kit
  • A gallon of water for each person staying at your rental and nonperishable foods
  • Can opener, plastic cups and eating utensils
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Personal hygiene items and hand sanitizer

By having a kit in place, your guests can focus on remaining safe during a disaster and keeping each other calm.

Build a Safe Room

Extreme windstorms in many parts of the country pose a serious threat to buildings and their occupants. Your short-term rental property may be built "to code," but that does not mean it can withstand winds from extreme events, such as tornadoes and major hurricanes. The purpose of a safe room or a wind shelter is to provide a space where you and your guests can seek refuge that provides a high level of protection. You can build a safe room in one of several places, including:

  • A basement
  • Atop a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or garage floor
  • An interior room on the first floor

Safe rooms built below ground level provide the greatest protection, but a safe room built in a first-floor interior room can also provide the necessary protection. Belowground safe rooms must be designed to avoid accumulating water during the heavy rains that often accompany severe windstorms. To protect its occupants, a safe room must be built to withstand high winds and flying debris, even if the rest of the residence is severely damaged or destroyed.

During the Tornado

If a tornado is headed in your vacation rental property’s way, act immediately. Communicate the following to your guests:

  • Go to the basement or lowest level of the property, get under a sturdy structure, then cover yourself with protective materials.
  • Crouch down to the floor facedown and cover your head with your hands.
  • Do not leave your safe space until local authorities say it is safe to do so.

After a Tornado

Injuries may result from the direct impact of a tornado, or they may occur afterward when people walk among debris and enter damaged buildings. A study of injuries after a tornado in Marion, Illinois, showed that 50% of tornado-related injuries were suffered during rescue attempts, cleanup and other post-tornado activities. Nearly one-third of those injuries resulted from stepping on nails. Because tornadoes often damage power lines, gas lines and electrical systems, there is a risk of fire, electrocution or explosion. Protecting yourself and your family requires prompt treatment of any injuries suffered during the storm and the use of extreme care to avoid further hazards.

Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injuries. Rather, get medical assistance immediately. If someone has stopped breathing, begin CPR — so long as you are trained to do so. If you are trapped, try to attract attention to your location.

Inspecting the Damage

You may be tempted to inspect the damage a tornado causes after a storm, but keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Continue to monitor your cellphone, radio or television for emergency information.
  • Be careful when entering any structure that has been damaged.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking near debris.
  • Be aware of hazards from sharp objects — such as exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with these lines. Report electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
  • If you use candles, make sure they are in safe holders and kept away from curtains, paper, wood or other flammable items.
  • If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of something burning, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you have not done so already.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the property immediately. Notify the gas company, the police or the fire department and do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke or do anything that could cause a spark.
  • After a tornado, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards.
  • Cooperate fully with local officials.

Weathering the Storm Together — CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance

We’re not playing games when it comes to twisters. CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. For more business safety guidance and rental property insurance solutions,  request a free quote today!

This blog may contain scenarios that are provided as examples only. Coverage is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. The information provided is general in nature and may be affected by changes in law or the interpretation of such laws. The reader is advised to contact a professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.

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CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance, a division of CBIZ Insurance Services,Inc., is the largest insurer of short-term vacation rental properties in the United States. As part of an $850 million New York Stock Exchange traded company (CBZ), we are the first broker to develop specific policy coverage to meet the needs for vacation rental properties and the amenities offered by these businesses. We have insured vacation rental properties since 2002.

The CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance team knows insurance, specifically the risks and exposures related to short-term vacation rentals.We won't confuse you with technical "insurance speak" ~ our representatives are well versed in explaining your coverage in plain English. With hands-on, personal customer service, we guarantee swift communication and a 24/7 claims team that is ready to respond to your call any time of the day. As specialist in the industry, we leverage our knowledge and passion to ensure you and your business are adequately protected.