As the National Weather Service is predicting strong to severe weather for parts of Texas, Wednesday evening, AAA Texas is reminding drivers and home owners about the hazards they may encounter, as a precaution. From hail, high winds and fallen trees to caved-in roofs and broken windows, storms can wreak havoc on your home and automobiles. AAA suggests that drivers, homeowners and renters review their insurance policies to see what is covered.
Hail is incredibly damaging to homes, crops, and cars. Here’s how to protect a car from hail when those little balls of ice fall from the sky. The best thing you can do is find a covered area. Pull your car into a garage if hail is in the forecast. If you’re out, then try and find shelter in a parking garage where you can wait out the storm. Even if you must pay to access a garage, it will be far cheaper than paying to repair hail damage.
If you can’t find shelter for your car during a hail storm, then use a hail cover or even blankets as a last resort. There’s often not much warning before a hail storm strikes. Only go outside to cover your car if it’s safe. It’s important to know how to protect a car from hail, but not as important as your personal safety.
Tornadoes and Wind Damage
- Know evacuation routes, shelter locations, and the safest and strongest rooms in your home.
- Make a plan to meet family members in the event you get separated.
- If you have time, reinforce windows with plywood or storm shutters.
- Bring your car, garbage cans, lawn chairs, umbrellas, and anything else that isn’t anchored down inside; tie down whatever you can.
- If you’re told to evacuate, pack what you need and get on the road. If a tornado is imminent, get to a storm shelter immediately. Storms can intensify in seconds, so don’t delay.
How to stay safe:
- If you have a radio handy, stay up to date on the latest storm news so you know when it’s safe to come out of your home or shelter.
- Keep your head down and face away from the wind, keep away from windows, and stay as well insulated from the storm as possible.
- Whether you’re in a storm shelter, your basement, a closet, or other safety area, try to remain in one place until it’s safe to come out.
- If you’re in an open area, lie flat in a ditch and try to avoid flying debris; stay away from bridges and overpasses.
Wind damage to your home, its roof, and other insured buildings on your property, such as a stand-alone garage, may be covered under your standard homeowners policy. AAA recommends that consumers review their insurance policy to determine if they have the proper coverage before a severe weather event.
Rain isn’t made up of perfectly pure drops of water. Rain drops collect pollutants as they fall creating acid rain, which is not good for your car. It’s not something you’ll see eating away at the paint and it’s not so corrosive it will hurt you, but over time it causes damage by dulling your car’s finish.
Make sure to wax your car as a part of regular car care to keep a protective coating between the paint and the rain. You should also wash your car to rinse off any residue after a storm. Even in the summer, an occasional undercarriage wash is important, too. The water that sprays back from the road is full of dirt, oil, and chemicals so you should wash off your vehicle even after a rain storm has washed away the visible dirt.
Be Alert and Prepared for Wet Roads
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that wet weather factors into nearly a million crashes annually across the U.S. Here are some safety tips all drivers should be aware of during periods of heavy rain and possible flooding.
- Turn Around Don’t Drown. Never attempt to drive on a road that’s covered with water. Turn around and find another route.
- Personal Safety First. Should you encounter a situation where your vehicle takes on water, always think of personal safety first. Leaving a vehicle to get to safer, higher ground to prevent injury or loss of life should always be the first priority.
- Never try to start a car that has taken on water. Flood waters are corrosive and contain debris that could enhance any damage the car has already received as a result of taking on water. In some cases vehicles may be salvageable by drying out, but starting a car in flood waters can force water into systems that may not be affected by standing water.
- Don't use cruise control. Driving on slick roads means your tires will have less traction, and you should be prepared to adjust accordingly. If something goes wrong while you have cruise control on, there may not be enough time to take over the vehicle.
- Increase your following distance. When facing reduced visibility, you and other drivers will likely need more time to react to surrounding traffic. Leave ample space between you and nearby vehicles to reduce the need for sudden reactions.
- Drive more slowly. Hydroplaning is an ever-present danger with as little as one-twelfth of an inch of water on the road. Some tires can lose contact with the road even at 35 mph. Reducing your speed will help you remain in control of the vehicle.
- Know how to respond to a skid. If your vehicle begins to skid, remain calm. Avoid slamming on your brakes; doing so could throw your vehicle off balance and out of your control. Instead, look and steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Vehicle maintenance is part of safe driving in general; it ensures everything is running smoothly. Be sure to check the following components; that way, you have less to worry about when you need to drive in the rain:
Windshield Wipers: Keep your vision as clear as possible by replacing your wipers every six to 12 months. Streaking or chattering are signs that it’s time to put on a new set.
Lights: Ensure your headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals are functioning properly so other drivers will see you more clearly. Clean haziness from your headlight covers.
Tires: Check them at least once a month; maintain your car’s recommended tire pressure. If you see uneven or excess tread wear, consider a suspension repair or wheel alignment. Drive responsibly to help keep yourself, and others, safe.
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.
AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas. Find additional news from AAA Texas in our online newsroom at http://tx-aaa.iprsoftware.com/.