Summer means BBQs, or cookouts in the South, and plenty of outdoor gatherings, complete with a freshly watered and cut lawn, beautiful lighting for the perfect ambiance after sundown, and don't forget your favorite Bluetooth speaker for blasting tunes for friends and family enjoying the pool. In the 2020s, summer fun means playing with your favorite summer tech. But, what happens when nature has other plans?
At Zap Consulting, summer means helping claims professionals with a LOT of summer weather-related claims, from lightning to stormwater damage, we've spent more than a decade of summers perfecting the art of summertime claim investigations. This post will explore the top 10 outdoor items most likely to be damaged and how to protect them - prevent the damage, save the claim, and enjoy the best time of the year!
Top 10 Outdoor Items Most Likely to be Damaged
1. Pool Equipment
Pool pumps, control panels, heaters, booster pumps, pool lighting, robotic cleaners, and more! These items are essential for any homeowner with a pool and are particularly susceptible to lightning damage due to their outdoor location and frequently interconnected configuration. Lightning strike damage to the main controller or power source could result in widespread damage throughout the pool control system. Surge protection devices may help in reducing the likelihood of damage from a low voltage power surge; however, protection of these items from lightning is a risky business. If you know a lightning storm is brewing, take steps to mitigate the risk of damage from potential surges, wind, or water.
Turn off pool equipment at the main power source.
Trim overgrown branches near the equipment.
Don't cover the pool. The cover will be exposed to potential tears from storm debris.
2. Outdoor Lighting
Exterior lighting systems can be a beautiful way to liven up any outdoor space; however, not all outdoor lighting is built to withstand summer storms. Networks of string lights, low-voltage landscape lighting, and landscape lighting transformers and timers are commonly claimed items during summer. Similar to pool equipment, interconnected outdoor lighting systems are prone to surge-related damage. Moreover, strong winds and debris can damage light fixtures that are not securely installed. Follow these steps to ensure your outdoor lighting fixtures are protected.
Disconnect the power before the storm hits.
Remove or secure poorly connected fixtures.
Turn the power off at the low-voltage transformer.
3. Audio Systems
Outdoor audio systems, including Bluetooth portable speakers, landscape speaker systems, receivers, amplifiers, subwoofers, and more, keep the tunes bumping all summer long. That is until a summer storm hits. All audio system components should be secured in a safe, weatherproof area ahead of a severe storm, if possible. If an audio system is permanently installed outdoors, weatherproof heavy-duty enclosures could help protect these high-dollar components from wind, rainwater, and debris.
Safely store audio components indoors.
Never stand under a tree with a boombox in a thunderstorm.
Consider weatherproof enclosures for permanent outdoor components.
4. Sprinkler Controllers
Nowadays, sprinkler system controllers are available in several different form factors and configurations, with different potential vulnerabilities to storm-related damages. Sprinkler controllers can be connected to an outlet or hardwired, locked within an enclosure, or exposed to the elements. These simple yet essential devices are among the most commonly claimed during the summer months. Be sure to disconnect power to the controller prior to a storm, and be sure any outdoor controllers are securely attached to the installed location.
Disconnect power to the sprinkler controller.
Secure loosely connected parts or covers.
Check the system fully before normal use after the storm.
5. Lawn Maintenance Equipment
Often, summertime means summer lawn care. You want to be the envy of the neighborhood. Even the best lawn manicurists can leave their equipment strewn about the yard in an attempt to catch the quickly passing ice cream truck. Lawn maintenance equipment such as mowers, trimmers, and blowers should be stored in a secure and dry location to prevent damage during storms. Additionally, it's important to properly secure outdoor furniture and other objects that could become dangerous projectiles during high winds. Regular tree pruning can also prevent damage from falling branches.
The grill is by far the most utilized technology in my house. Grills, including gas grills and pellet grills, should be secured or moved indoors during storms to prevent damage or potential fires caused by strong winds. Additionally, propane tanks should be properly secured and turned off to prevent leaks. If it's not possible to move the grill indoors, a grill cover should be used to protect it from rain and debris.
Move grills indoors if possible before a storm hits.
Securely store propane tanks.
Utilize grill cover to protect the exterior from debris and wind damage.
7. Outdoor Kitchen Appliances
Outdoor kitchens can be luxurious oases. However, like most items of luxury, they can be costly to maintain and protect during storm season. Outdoor kitchen appliances such as refrigerators, sinks, and grills should be secured or covered during storms to prevent damage or water intrusion. It's also important to turn off any gas or electrical connections and to unplug appliances before the storm hits. Regular maintenance and cleaning of outdoor kitchen appliances can also help prevent storm damage.
Disconnect utilities prior to the storm.
Securely affix protective coverings.
Shield glass parts from potential debris and wind damage.
8. Drones & Toys
Of course, summertime means toys! Drones and toys should be securely stored indoors before a storm hits to prevent damage caused by strong winds and heavy rain. If stored outdoors, they should be anchored or tied down to prevent them from becoming dangerous projectiles. It's important to disconnect any batteries or power sources to prevent electrical damage. After the storm has passed, it's essential to inspect the toys and drones for any signs of damage before using them again.
Don't play with toys in a storm!
Bring all toys indoors before a storm.
9. Power Tools
Power tools should be unplugged and stored indoors during summer storms to protect them from power surges caused by lightning strikes. Additionally, power tools should be kept in a dry location to prevent water damage. It's important to inspect the tools for any signs of damage before using them again to ensure they are safe and in good working condition.
Outdoor televisions should be unplugged and securely covered or moved indoors during summer storms to protect them from lightning strikes and water damage. If the TV cannot be moved, it's important to unplug it and cover it with a waterproof cover. Surge protectors can also be used to protect the TV from certain types of power surges. After the storm has passed, it's important to inspect the TV for any signs of damage before using it again.
Disconnect power to outdoor televisions before the storm.
If possible, store televisions indoors until the storm has passed.
Securely attach protective coverings.