Prepare Yourself and Your Home Before the Storms Come
The type of severe weather or potential natural disasters to prepare for depends on where you live. Preparation, ahead of time, is key to how well you and your home “weather the storm.” Tornadoes can occur without warning, while a hurricane may take days to arrive. In either case, if you’re not ready when it happens, the consequences can be costly, if not dangerous.
It’s important to educate yourself about the type of events common or possible where you live. And to know how to respond. Be sure to read and thoroughly understand your home insurance policy, especially what it does and does not cover. You may want to consider additional coverage depending on the types of risks your home might face.
Below are some suggestions on where to start when preparing for some common severe weather events with links to additional resources.
Do you know what shelters are close to your home? Which roads and highways you should take out of town to avoid a storm? These are just a couple of questions to ask yourself now, before you’re in ‘emergency-mode’. You can also make arrangements with family or friends who you can ask for help or shelter if you ever need it – choose people for whom you’ll return the favor. Keep a written list of phone numbers of the family and friends you know you can rely on – you’ll be glad you have them handy if your mobile device runs out of power.
Keep a Basic Emergency Kit
Every home should have an emergency kit. It’s easy and inexpensive to create your own. Store your items in one or two large 5 gallon plastic buckets with a lid. You can get these at your local hardware store or big box retailer. Store them indoors, in the back of a closet, on the ground floor, and as close to the middle of the house as possible. In addition to any special personal supplies you might need, the basic items every emergency kit should have include:
- Gallon of water per person, per day (stored separately)
- Canned or non-perishable food
- Flashlight & extra batteries
- Battery powered radio
- Mobile phone cords
- Multi-purpose tool
- Pet supplies, food
- Basic First aid kit
- Toiletries, soap
- Source of fire
- Extra cash
One thing about hurricanes is they don’t sneak up on you. You get plenty of warning as they approach and have plenty of time to ensure your personal safety. Most often, that means leaving before the storm arrives. When it comes to your house, with this type of storm, the best thing you can do is protect your windows against the wind. If they blow out, the inside of your home can be badly damaged. Even worse, pressure can build up inside the home that can cause severe structural damage.
PLYLOX™ window clips are an inexpensive way to protect your windows from high winds and airborne debris. They hold pre-cut plywood boards up against your windows. They’re quickly and easily installed and removed without drilling holes in your home. Getting your clips, cutting and storing your boards is a great weekend project to tackle before storm season arrives. It’s not something to do at the last minute when everyone is also buying supplies and you need to get to safety. Visit hurricanescience.org for additional tips on how to be safe during a hurricane.
Unlike many other natural disasters, earthquakes just happen, without warning. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, all 50 states are at some risk for earthquakes any time of year. If you’re home when an earthquake occurs, remember to “drop, cover and hold.” Go to the ground so you don’t get knocked over. Cover your head with your arms, a book or anything you have. Low furniture, an interior wall or corner may provide additional cover if you can get there quickly. If not, stay where you are, “hold” or stay in place until the shaking stops.
For additional tips on what you can do before, during and after an earthquakes, visit the FEMA website for Earthquake Safety at Home on what you should prepare for before, during and after an earthquake.
Wildfires are very unpredictable. If there’s one close to your home, you have to remain extremely vigilant. The threat and danger can change in an instant. If an evacuation order is given, go. Leave immediately. You’ll likely already be aware of the potential danger, so you should be prepared.
If you live where wildfires are a potential problem, you can create a “defensible space” around your home by the way you maintain your property. 30 feet is minimum. You’ll need 50 feet if you live in a heavily wooded area, or 100 feet if your home is on a hillside. 100 feet is the minimum if you live in California. To create your defensible space, only plant native vegetation, fire-resistant trees and shrubs. Always keep the ground free from dead or dying vegetation. Trim trees a minimum of 6 feet off the ground, and shrubs no more than 18 inches high. Don’t let branches grow over your roof, or store flammable materials like firewood less than 50 feet from your house. Farmers Insurance offers these and other essential tips to protect your home against wildfire damage on their website.
You can be in middle of a severe storm and a tornado can happen without warning. The damage they cause can be devastating. Short of building a tornado-proof home from the ground up, there’s little you can do to prevent damage to your home. If you live in an area prone to tornado activity, it’s crucial that you have a tornado plan, that everyone in your family knows what to do and where to take shelter in your home. Everyone should discuss and even practice the plan regularly. You may only have seconds to act.
If you’re home when a tornado happens, stay away from windows. Get to a basement if you have one. Go to the lowest floor, to a small room in the center of your home like a bathroom or closet, under a stairwell, or even an interior hallway with no windows. Stay as low to the ground as possible, face down and cover your head. Cover yourself on the floor with thick padding if possible, a mattress, pillows, large couch cushions, even blankets.
The Tornado Safety page from NOAA’s National Weather Service Storm Predication Center offers important safety tips on what to do during a tornado depending on where you are.
It’s important to educate yourself about the potential weather and natural disaster risks you could face. Preparation is key to protecting yourself, and your home when possible. Should your home ever suffer weather or storm related damage, get in touch with PrimeLending loan officer who can explain the unique PrimeLending loans designed specifically to cover the costs of weather-related damage.
From the PrimeLending blog by Michael Nevin