How to minimise damage caused by hail

Hail tips on the road

Here are some precautions to take to prevent hail damage to your car, whether you are driving and caught in a hailstorm, or your car is parked outside at home or at work:

  1. Stock up on fleecy blankets: If there is no undercover parking area to protect your car, vehicle owners should layer their cars with thick blankets to minimise the impact of hailstones. These blankets can be purchased at a minimal cost and left in the boot of your car.
  2. Drive like Miss Daisy: If there is no cover nearby and you have to drive in a hailstorm, drive slowly (if possible) and cautiously. Also put your hazards and lights on. Driving cautiously may reduce damage because the hail will ricochet off the surface of the vehicle, while driving fast might cause a collision – especially on wet, slippery roads.
  3. Make sure we have your number: Be sure that your insurance company has your cell number on record and if they offer this service, you will receive an automated hail pre-warning message from Africa Weather to ensure you are not caught in an unexpected hailstorm while driving. In severe cases hail can be as big as a cricket ball.
  4. Use your smartphone: Load the locations of nearby covered parking garages into your GPS or smartphone, which will be helpful if you’re on the road and need a safe sheltered area immediately. When hail is predicted, head for the closest undercover area to ride out the storm in safety. If you can’t reach it before the hailstones hit, pull under an overpass, a petrol station canopy or a similar spot that can protect your car from hail damage. Hail will cause more damage to a moving vehicle.
  5. Find an alternative use for your floor mats: If you’re caught in a vicious hailstorm and can’t find cover, pull over in a safe location, grab the floor mats and put them on the roof and hood. This solution has its limitations – the mats won’t cover the entire car and you may have trouble keeping them in place if it’s extremely windy. However, this cover can help minimise paint and glass damage.


Be safe at home during a hailstorm

While hailstorms can be unpredictable, hail originates from thunderstorms so keep an eye out for weather reports in your area. Here’s how to stay safe at home: 

  1. Keep those blinds down: Close all drapes, blinds, or shades to prevent broken window glass and hailstones from entering your home or injuring you or your family.
  2. Make sure you maintain your trees: Removing weak branches and eliminating trees that could fall on your home during a hailstorm is very important as falling trees and blowing debris in storms often cause fatalities and severe structural damage.
  3. Raid the linen closet: If your home doesn’t have a garage, you see your carport cover is going to fly off and local weather advisory issues a hail warning, cover your car with any unused blankets, comforters or large towels that you may have. Add as much cushioning as possible, the more layers the better.
  4. Keep your gutters clean: It’s important to regularly clear gutters of leaves, twigs and any other debris. Hail takes a while to melt and an overflowing gutter could lead to a leaking roof and further damage.
  5. Quality matters: When fitting or replacing gutters, quality matters. Better quality gutters are able to withstand increased water flow during rainfall and hailstorms. When building, it’s sensible to opt for impact resistant roofing, as it will prevent any serious damage to the roof structure


Source: Santam