How to Prepare Your Home for a Natural Disaster
Natural disasters can occur in any part of the country, causing widespread and costly damage. The Insurance Information Institute statistics estimate that losses incurred from these disasters surpassed $25.5 billion in 2019, down from $52 billion in the previous year. Nonetheless, these calamities are bound to happen, and homeowners should prepare to avert or mitigate risks.
Just to mention, earthquakes are commonly experienced in the West Coast, Hurricanes are common in the Southeast, and New England struggles with crippling blizzards. That said, below are some tips on preparing your home for a natural disaster.
Preparing for Floods
Weather changes occur without notice, and you should be prepared for floods. While floods can happen any time of the year, they are common during spring due to melting snow. Consider the following checklist to prepare for floods;
- Know your risk area – even though floods occur in all 50 states, you should know your level of risk. Check out if your state is a high-risk area from FEMA Flood Maps.
- Get an insurance cover – your standard homeowners’ insurance cover may not cover flood damage. Therefore, it is prudent to take additional flood insurance, especially if you are in a high-risk area.
- Clear your gutters – gutters channel rainwater away from the house. Clogged drains will encourage the accumulation of water around your home, which might damage the foundation and basement.
- Raise electrical systems – if your area is prone to floods, consider elevating your sockets, circuits, wiring, and any other electrical system above your states’ base flood elevation.
- Install a sump pump – you should have an automatic sump pump to pump out any water accumulating in the sump basin in your basement.
Preparing for Wildfire
Wildfires often start as small fires in densely wooded areas due to human carelessness or lighting strikes. It spreads faster through wood and dried bush, especially in high winds or dry weather conditions. Due to their unpredictable nature, you should prepare your home for wildfires as follows;
- Landscape with wildfire in mind – if you live within a densely wooded area, landscape with plants that don’t fuel the fire. This includes creating open spaces filled with non-inflammable plants. You should also create a 30-feet clearance between your home and woods or 100 feet in areas highly prone to wildfires, such as California.
- Build strategically – leverage fire-retardant materials or treat your building materials with fire-resistant chemicals. Use metals or tile for roofs, tempered glass panes for windows, and ignition-resistant fence and deck materials.
- Observe safety – install fire extinguishers in every spot and ensure that all occupants know how to discharge a fire extinguisher.
Preparing for an Earthquake
While South California remains the epicenter of earthquakes in the U.S, approximately 150 million people live in areas where earthquakes can cause significant damage. This natural disaster is responsible for more than $4.8 billion annual financial loss in 48 states, including Oregon, California, and Washington. Since they cannot be predicted, preparing for an earthquake is prudent. Consider the following preparation tips;
- Secure tall and large furniture – bolt media cabinets and bookshelves into pillars or walls. You can also strap TV sets to avoid tipping over. For homeowners living in earthquake-prone areas, invest in earthquake-proof household furniture.
- Check your foundation – inspect and repair any cracks in your foundation. Hire an expert for thorough inspection for signs of structural damage or weakness.
- Locate your gas connection – you should disconnect the gas supply to your home to avoid potential fires. Ensure that you know where and how to cut gas supply.
- Have an earthquake plan – identify the best places, such as sturdy desks or interior door frames, where you can take cover. Agree with your family members where you should meet if nobody is home during the earthquake. This should be far from tall buildings.
- Create an earthquake emergency kit – your emergency kit should have a flashlight with extra batteries, enough food and water supplies, medicines, extra clothes, cash, and tools, such as crowbars, hammers, and wrenches.
Preparing for Hurricanes
Hurricanes in the U.S can occur between June and November and primarily affect the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coastlines. Hurricanes include storm surges, high winds, and heavy rainfall, and flooding. General preparation measures include;
- Assess your home for risk – begin by assessing if your home will withstand a storm surge or strong winds. Hire a professional to assess your home’s foundation and landscaping to provide the necessary recommendations.
- Prepare an emergency evacuation kit – you will need water, food, clothes, and medications if you have to evacuate the area.
- Remove unnecessary debris – clear your backyard of downed limbs or dead trees that strong winds can pick.
- Board windows – use storm shutters or plywood to protect your home from extra damage.
While the guide above doesn’t outline preparation measures for all natural disasters, it can guide you to prepare for common disasters. Besides, these measures are also effective for other natural disasters, including tornados, harsh winter weather, and landslides. Always consult home improvement and disaster restoration experts for better preparedness.