Prepping Your Home Before a Natural Disaster
How to Prepare a Home for a Natural Disaster
In 2019, the U.S. experienced a total of 90 natural disasters, according to Statistica. Severe thunderstorm damage alone caused economic losses of $27 billion in the U.S. throughout the year. No matter where you live, you’re not immune to some type of dangerous natural disaster.
While you can’t stop a natural disaster from heading straight towards you, you can prepare yourself and your home for the event. Review this article to learn more about the effects of disasters and what preventative actions you should take to get ready for an event in your area.
Types of Natural Disasters
Before you can prepare for a natural disaster, it’s important to understand the types of events you could experience in your area. Learn more about your location and the specific natural disasters your community is prone to experiencing. Sign up for emergency text, phone call, or email alerts through FEMA, the Red Cross, or a local disaster agency in your area.
You can also review a natural disaster risk map to better understand the risks in your current environment. The Natural Center for Disaster Preparedness provides an online natural hazard risk map that allows you to learn more about the events that may occur in your area. Different hazards require different preventative measures, so it’s crucial to identify the natural disasters you may be susceptible to first.
An earthquake occurs when two areas of the Earth’s tectonic plates slide past and grind against one another, causing the ground to shake. Earthquakes can occur in any state in the U.S., as long as a fault line is present. Before an earthquake, it’s important to secure large furniture and repair any cracks in your home’s walls or foundation.
Wildfires generally begin when wooded areas are exposed to flames from humans or lightning strikes. With dry conditions and wind, these small fires can spread and become uncontrollable, threatening nearby homes. Prepare your home for potential wildfires by clearing dry brush from around the exterior and clearing dry leaves from your rain gutters.
Floods occur when too much water is present in one area, either via rain, tsunami, hurricane, or another natural disaster. Homes and livelihoods are threatened when local waterways can’t handle the excess water. Storm flooding restoration can be extensive, depending on the damage. To prepare your home for a flood, ensure your electrical system isn’t on the ground level, and consider purchasing flood insurance.
Severe thunderstorms cause tornadoes to form without much warning. These funnel-like clouds extend from the storm to the ground and produce powerful and damaging winds. Identify your safe room in the middle of your home and use a weather radio for updates on a tornado’s location. If you live in a mobile home, evacuate at the first signs of a tornado.
Storms and Hurricanes
While severe storms can pop up in any region, hurricanes are mainly experienced in coastal states. A hurricane may bring high wind, storm surges, and heavy rainfall but you should have plenty of warning before the storm hits your area. To prepare, board your windows, and remove or secure debris around your home.
Make a Plan
An emergency or natural disaster may induce panic and irrational thinking. However, if you have a plan in place for an emergency, you’ll be able to think more clearly and prevent or reduce damage or injury.
Emergency Action Plan
When there’s an imminent threat in your area, implement your emergency action plan. Your plan should provide an outline of the steps you need to take to prepare for the event. To create your own emergency action plan, you should:
- Know your evacuation route.
- Identify shelters in your area that meet your family’s needs.
- Have a clearly defined communication strategy with your family and neighbors.
- Learn how and when to shut off utilities to your home, if needed.
- Make an evacuation and care plan for your pets.
Disaster Recovery Plan
After a natural disaster, you may need to begin the repair and rebuilding process. Since this process can be overwhelming, it’s important to create a disaster recovery plan that includes steps to get your home back in order. This plan should include:
- Emergency contact information.
- Help and resource contact information.
- Your insurance policies and company contact information.
- Steps for cleaning your home.
- Contact information for a professional restoration company.
Depending on the disaster that occurred, you may need assistance remediating smoke and fire damage in your home. Water damage from flooding should be professionally addressed right away. If this damage isn’t repaired, you may need to hire a mold remediation specialist to clear out unhealthy mold spores from your home.
Preventative Infrastructure and Practices
Once you've identified the natural disasters that your area is prone to experiencing, implement preventive practices to prepare your property and family for these events. When you apply preventive infrastructures and practices, you can prevent damage and injury if a natural disaster occurs.
Depending on the events that are likely to occur in your area, you should consider:
- Creating retaining walls.
- Installing hurricane-resistant windows.
- Planting fire-resistant landscaping.
- Bolting down and securing heavy objects or outdoor furniture.
- Sealing cracks in your foundation.
- Removing debris from around your home.
Finances, Insurance, and Important Documents
One of the best ways to prepare for a natural disaster is to review your insurance policy. Ensure it provides coverage for the events that are likely to occur in your area. You may need to increase coverage or purchase additional policies, such as a flood insurance policy, to ensure you’re properly covered.
Create an emergency fund that you can use if a natural disaster occurs. With this fund, you can pay for unexpected expenses, such as food, shelter, or repairs that aren’t covered under your insurance. Your important documents, such as your insurance policy, identification documents, and bank account information, should be stored in a safe location and taken with you in the event of an emergency.
Build an Emergency Kit
During an emergency, you may need to evacuate your home quickly. If you stay home, you may lose power and access to a local grocery store or other conveniences.
Build an emergency kit before a disaster occurs so you’re prepared for this scenario. The items you stock in your kit should depend on your needs and the event that you think will occur but may include:
- Non-perishable food items.
- A weather radio.
- Extra batteries.
- Important documents.
- A first-aid kit.
- Supplies for children and/or pets.
Store your items in a bag or kit that’s easy to grab if you’re in a hurry to evacuate your home.
Some natural disasters are unpredictable, which is why it’s so important to prepare for emergencies ahead of time. When you create emergency action and disaster recovery plans and prepare your property for natural disasters, you can prevent severe damages and keep your family safe.