In 2016, natural disasters accounted for $23.8 billion in covered losses in the United States. When a flood, storm, or other disaster unexpectedly shows up on your doorstep, it is already too late to take any protective measures. Although some damage cannot be prevented, there are some steps that you can take to reduce the harm to your home and protect your family in case of these events.
In terms of sheer destruction and cost, flooding is one of the top natural disasters in the United States. Here is how to protect your home as much as possible:
- Know your risk: Check flood maps to see if you are living in or near a flood-prone area.
- Buy flood insurance.
- Keep your most valuable belongings on a higher floor as well as any electronics.
- Raise your home if possible, especially if you live in a modular or mobile home.
- Elevate any appliances that you can to reduce potential damage to them. This mostly applies to appliances found in the basement including the washing machine, dryer, and furnace.
- Install a sump pump. Make sure it has a backup that is powered by a battery in case of a power outage.
- Seal any cracks in your home’s foundation and consider putting in a floor barrier. These waterproofing steps will help reduce the amount of water coming into the basement in the case of a flood.
- Have a flood safety plan in place and learn your evacuation routes.
Keep in mind that there are many types of storms that can lead to flooding, but there are also other causes such as burst pipes, improperly sealed basements, and poor drainage systems.
Storms: Hail, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, and Lightning
Early summer marks the beginning of hurricane season, which can bring storms that affect people thousands of miles away from the actual hurricane path. There are threats from many of the natural phenomena that can occur with a storm. Lightning, hail, heavy rains, and howling winds can do major damage to a home either directly or indirectly by causing other objects to crash into or fall on top of the home.
- Use sturdy roofing materials to help protect against hail damage.
- Keep cars in your garage or somewhere undercover nearby if you know that a storm is coming.
Tornadoes and Hurricanes
- Consider reinforcing your roof with clips that attach the roof more securely to your home’s framing.
- Seal roof joints with a moisture barrier to help protect against water intrusion.
- Make sure to regularly trim trees around your home. This will ensure that there are fewer weak branches that can break off and come through a window.
- Check door hinges and locks to make sure they are in good condition.
- Put important belongings and papers in a safe that is fireproof and waterproof.
- Regularly clean your gutters, as you will need all drainage systems working properly in the case of heavy rains.
- Immediate preparation for tornadoes and hurricanes includes boarding windows, closing shutters, and bringing in anything that could be launched by heavy winds.
- It is important to evacuate if directed to do so by local emergency services.
- Lightning during a storm as well as heat lightning can cause significant damage to a home.
- To protect your home, there is the option to install a lightning protection system, which attracts the lightning, harnesses it, and then directs it away from your home.
- It is also important to install surge protectors or to unplug everything when there is a threat of lightning, as a strike as far as a few miles away can cause a power surge that will destroy electronics and other systems in your home.
Even in the city, there is the risk of animals causing damage to your home. Rodents such as rats can get into the walls of your home and chew through wires, leading to the potential for fires. They can also spread germs and illnesses, especially to people with weakened immune systems, the very young, and the very old. Raccoons are notoriously smart and incredibly strong; they will rip off window screens and even tear holes in the roof to gain access to your home.
- Eliminate easy access points by trimming tree limbs that hang over the roof.
- Cover gutters with a fine mesh screen. Rodents love to use these as their personal highway and may be using it to get inside. They also tend to form nests in gutters, which blocks rainfall and can lead to flooding issues and water damage. Clean out the gutters before covering, or you will be stuck with the smell of dead rodents for some time.
- Cover your trashcans securely. Don’t count on a lid keeping the raccoons out.
- Eliminate bird feeders on the porch or very near the side of your home because other animals may come to feed, see themselves in the window’s reflection, and become confused and cause damage.
- Cover outside food and bring in food dishes so that you do not end up with wild animals, including bears, on your property or even inside your home.
Natural disasters can be terrifying for anyone who experiences one. By taking steps now to help protect your home against potential damage, it can be one less thing on your mind while you focus on keeping your family safe.