Preparing Your Home for Natural Disaster
May 1, 2023
One of the best ways to prepare for natural disasters is to be informed of the most common types of weather threats in your area and the times when they are most likely to occur. For example, the East Coast occasionally experiences hurricanes in the summer and fall months. With that information in mind, it makes sense to put precautions in place to minimize the impact a hurricane could have on your home during those periods.
Another way to prepare is to check your insurance policy and confirm that it covers damage the home may incur from natural disasters. One example is flood insurance. If there is even a remote possibility your home could be vulnerable to flood damage, you should ensure it is covered by insurance.
You should also know the location of your water, gas, and electrical lines in case any of them need to be shut off. If left unchecked, they could potentially cause additional damage, as water lines could flood the home and gas and electrical lines can be a fire hazard.
Aside from earthquakes, which are much rarer on the East Coast than the West Coast, the primary factors associated with extreme weather and natural disasters are wind, rain, flooding, fire, and extreme heat and cold. Protecting your home against these variables will best prepare you for cases of natural disaster.
Protect against wind
Thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like bring heavy winds. This opens up the potential for trees and other objects to cause damage to homes. The following should be done to minimize the harm wind can cause to the home.
- Remove tree limbs that are damaged or diseased
- Bring outdoor furniture and lawn equipment inside or secure it against a wall
- In extreme cases, cover windows with marine-grade plywood or storm shutters
- Reinforce the garage door
Protect against rain and flooding
Flooding can be very dangerous and can cause significant damage to a home. Floods are not always preventable, but there are ways to minimize the damage they can cause.
- Shut off electricity at the main panel if the floor beneath it is dry
- Place foam insulation or plastic sheeting around the outside walls of the first floor. This will not completely prevent flooding, but it will guard against silt
- If you have a well, seal it to keep out silt and other debris
- Fill sinks, tubs, and buckets with water beforehand to use for hygiene purposes if the home’s water becomes inaccessible
- If the home has a basement, seal all the cracks in the walls with a waterproofing compound
Protect against fire and lightning
Although wildfires are generally less common in the Mid-Atlantic than the West Coast, they still pose a threat in many areas. To add to that, lightning can strike just about anywhere. The following can help minimize the damage they can cause to your home.
- Water the roof and vegetation surrounding the property
- Remove outdoor furniture and other items that can catch fire
- Shut the home’s doors, windows, and vents and move drapery and furniture away from windows and doors
- If the home has a fireplace, open the damper but keep the screen shut
- Check all smoke alarms to ensure they are working properly
Protect against extreme heat and extreme cold
Both severe heat and severe cold can cause damage to a home. Ensure you have a plan in place before you need to react to one or the other.
- Inspect your HVAC system and fireplace each fall, confirming the thermostat is working properly and that there are no loose connections in the gas lines leading to your fireplace
- Replace the filters in your HVAC system every three months
- If you have a generator, fill gas containers to ensure you have enough fuel to keep the generator running
- Protect your home against extreme heat by insulating the attic, installing an attic door cover, and caulking windows and doors
Most of the suggestions mentioned will not provide complete protection from the elements, but they can help minimize the damage to your home. Preparing your property for natural disasters will go a long way should a natural disaster take place.