Natural disasters can strike at any time. It’s critical to prepare your home for these unplanned events, especially if you live in areas prone to certain weather. Act now to prepare your house. When a disaster is impending, it may be too late.
Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
The Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 through November 30. Storms can cause damage from high wind, falling trees, and flooding. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, don’t wait until a storm is approaching to prepare. Prepare your home in advance:
- If you don’t have hurricane-tempered glass windows, prepare plywood boards for each window.
- Schedule regular tree maintenance to avoid falling limbs.
- Caulk door jams and window crevices.
- Check your home insurance to ensure it covers storm damage.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Make sure everyone knows how to use it.
- Stock up on batteries and propane in case of lost electricity.
Pay attention to the National Weather Service or TV news stations. If a storm is approaching, be ready to prepare for potential weather quickly. These steps include:
- Clear your yard of anything that could take flight and cause damage.
- Bring outdoor items indoors.
- Submerge waterproof items in your pool, like furniture, which will sink and stay safe.
- Fill containers, sinks, and bathtubs with water.
- Secure your roof with hurricane straps or clips to minimize the risk.
Tornadoes can have wind speeds of over 200 miles per hour, causing tremendous damage to homes in their path. Make these preparations:
- Secure your entry doors with a two-inch deadbolt lock.
- Make sure the door frame is well-anchored.
- Brace your garage door by installing a vertical brace into the framing of the wall and the floor.
- Install impact-resistant windows, hurricane shutters, or prepared plywood covers for windows.
- Secure your roof with hurricane clips, available in a range of protections depending on the weight of your roof.
- Store important documents in a fire-proof box.
- Stock a home shelter with essentials: battery-powered radio, flashlight, spare batteries, water, and snack food like energy bars.
Severe thunderstorms and hail occur in many parts of the country. There are a few steps you can take to protect your home:
- Trim trees and remove branches that overhang your home.
- Install a lightning surge protector to keep electrical equipment safe from power surges.
- Install protection around your home’s air conditioning unit to reduce the chance of damage.
- Upgrade to steel gutters and rain spouts, which are more tolerant than vinyl and aluminum.
- Replace loose roof shingles.
Unfortunately, as many parts of the country experience drought and temperatures rise, the areas at risk of wildfires has increased. If you live in one of these places, here are clear steps that protect your home from wildfire:
- Use Class-A fire-rated asphalt shingles on your roof.
- Replace combustible, untreated wood or vinyl siding with noncombustible materials like a concrete-fiber board, stucco, brick, or stone veneer.
- Replace windows with tempered glass, especially first-floor windows.
- Do not use the area under your deck for storage.
- Make a five-foot buffer around your home, free from firewood, outdoor furniture, trash cans, pet houses, lawn tools, and children’s playsets.
- Keep your yard free from leaves and pine needles.
- Hire a licensed electrician to raise electric components, like switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring, 12 inches above the base flood elevation to prevent damage and reduce the chance of fire from short circuits.
- Build a flood-proof wall around your HVAC system.
- Install a sewer backflow valve to prevent sewage from backing up through drain pipes into your home.
- Keep sump pump batteries in working condition.
- Don’t store valuables in the basement or crawl space.
There are several ways to protect your property from an earthquake:
- Anchor top-heavy, large furniture, bookshelves, wardrobes, and water heaters or move them to areas of your home where they are less likely to cause injuries.
- Anchor objects to wall studs. Even smaller objects like ceiling fans, picture frames, and televisions can cause personal injury during an earthquake.
- Latch cabinets.
- Document belongings.
- Identify two exits from your home.
Protecting Your Most Important Assets: Your Family
No matter what extreme weather your home may be at risk of, make a family plan and prepare a basic disaster supply kit. Stock your car with nonperishable food, water, and medications, and know where your nearest shelters are located. Print out important documents: phone numbers, insurance information, medical records, wills, passports, and personal identification cards and store them in a waterproof box. Then, sign up for local weather alerts to be ready to prepare your home and evacuate if needed.
Being well-prepared for a natural disaster will reduce fear, anxiety, and property loss. The time to plan is now.