Meteorology isn’t perfect, but with today’s tools, we can reasonably predict most intense storms. That means you’ll almost always have an opportunity to prepare your home for a storm, potentially reducing damage and making your life easier.
But what are the best ways to prepare a house for an intense storm?
Understand the Storm
First, it’s important to understand the storm that you’re about to face. Pay close attention to the weather forecast and be advised of any warnings that are circulated to people in your area. A mild thunderstorm is probably nothing to be concerned about, but a severe hurricane is cause for genuine concern.
Additionally, you should be aware of different hazards associated with different types of storms; for example, some storms may come with hail, which has the potential to damage your property directly.
Clean Out Your Gutters
According to Dennis Chinea of NJ Water and Mold, one of the most important proactive steps to take is cleaning out your gutters. This is a home maintenance item that everyone should be practicing at least once a year, if not more frequently, but it’s commonly neglected by millions of people. Over time, your house’s gutters can become clogged with leaves, sticks, and other forms of debris. By themselves, they won’t do much damage, but if they create a dam, it could create a dangerous situation; if the water has nowhere else to run, it can pool, eventually leading to roof damage or a major leak. And the last thing you need during a major storm is a leaky roof.
Trim Dead Tree Limbs
Next, take a look at any trees in your yard and trim any dead limbs that you find. Limbs that are weak are likely to be snapped off in the storm, and if they get loose, they could cause significant damage, breaking through your windows or even hurting people nearby. Again, this is a routine maintenance item, but it’s important to practice before a storm sets in.
Bring in Your Furniture
Anything that isn’t totally secured in your yard could become a flying projectile with strong enough winds. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring in all your outdoor furniture, as well as grills, decorations, toys, and other materials that might be there.
Inspect Your Roof
Strong storms are going to test the structural integrity of your roof. If your roof is old, if it’s already taken significant damage, or if it’s showing signs of wear, it could be a serious liability in the face of a powerful storm. It’s important to be proactive here, repairing or replacing roof elements to make sure your roof is capable of withstanding heavy winds, rain, and hail.
Consider Boarding Windows and Doors
If you’re facing a hurricane, it’s worth considering boarding up your doors and windows. These are fragile points in your house that can be compromised or destroyed by flying debris or severe winds. Sheets of plywood are relatively inexpensive and easy to nail to your house in most cases, so it might be worth the proactive investment.
Charge Your Most Important Devices
Storms are frequently associated with electricity outages, so in the hours leading up to a major storm, consider charging your most important devices. If your smartphone is fully charged, you’ll be in a much better position to place an emergency phone call if necessary.
Gather Emergency Supplies
Next, gather some emergency supplies in case you’re stranded at home without essential utilities.
· Drinking water. If there’s a disruption in your water service, you’ll want to have a stockpile of potable water at the ready. Consider filling up various containers, or even your bathtub, while you still have access to clean drinking water.
· Food. You should also have at least a few days of food on hand, if not a few weeks of food. Nonperishable foods that don’t need much preparation or cooking are ideal.
· Medical supplies. It’s a good idea to have a first aid kit on hand, plus any additional medical supplies you and your family need. At a minimum, you should have bandages, dressings, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, gloves, gauze, a thermometer, and tweezers.
· Lighting. If the electricity goes out, you’ll want to have sources of light. A couple of manually rechargeable flashlights and several candles should be sufficient.
· Communication. It’s good to have your phones charged up, but you should also have a backup communication option. A battery-powered radio can help you get access to news and updates in the absence of electricity or internet access.
· Generator fuel. If you have a generator, consider stocking up on fuel for it. It can keep your most essential electric appliances running.
Have an Evacuation Plan
Finally, put together an evacuation plan. If the storm is severely threatening, or if the structural integrity of your home is compromised, you need to have a plan for how to get you and your family out. Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas and prepare multiple alternative routes in case any main routes are blocked.
Preparing your house for a storm does take an investment of time, and sometimes money, but it’s worth it for the safety of your family. Don’t get caught off guard, and don’t assume that your home is safe in its current state.