Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornados and wildfires affect home thousands of homeowners each year. And unfortunately, these disasters don’t mean just simple destruction of property, but at it’s worst, death can follow disasters, so be prepared.
Part of the equation is being informed. In a tornado or a wildfire, there is often little advanced warning. However, with hurricanes and floods there is generally some warning.
So the number one tip to protect yourself is to buy a hand-cranked, or battery-operated radio for your home. During a disaster, the power may very well go out in your home, so the only way to hear about government alerts about that go out is to have a radio handy that is always ready to go. You can buy one for less than $30, and they can save lives.
The next thing to do is to listen to it. If the government warns you to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.
Next, have food and water available to stow away. In a flood or an earthquake, one or two days worth of food, some cooking utensils, and a small camping burner can keep you and your family alive if you are trapped in place.
If you live in tornado country, although they are somewhat costly, consider buying a tornado shelter. Winds in a tornado can get as high as 300 miles per hour. As many as 1500 people per year lose their lives in the U.S. due to tornados. While a shelter could eliminate most of them.
If you live in an area subject to wildfires, be sure and see a roofing contractor about getting a relatively flameproof roof. Also, create defense zones in your yard to keep flames from penetrating near your home.
Regardless of whether you are faced with a wildfire, a hurricane or tornado, one of the weak spots of your house is the windows. Replace single-pane windows, with double pane windows, and consider flameproof curtains.
In the case of hurricanes, be prepared with strong plywood sheets, a nail gun and a ladder to quickly cover your windows before you evacuate.
If you live in a flood area or a hurricane area, another incredibly useful protection tool is sandbags and sand. If you can keep door openings, both front and rear protected from encroaching water, you can avoid coming home to a home where all or most of your furniture and precious household goods are wet with water.
In the case of a wildfire, you will want to have plenty of wet towels to protect your house before you evacuate.
Another factor, and unfortunately many people don’t realize it, is the simple act of turning off the utilities. Gas leaks, particularly from stoves, and heaters can become time bombs in your home. Know where to turn off all the utilities long before it is necessary.
Two weak spots, in particular, are garage doors and back patios. Both are quite weak in terms of fighting off wind damage. Getting your patio door and your garage door reinforced can make a huge difference in how much disaster damage you experience.
In tornado, earthquake and hurricane areas, you might want to hire a contractor to bolt your house to your foundation.
In hurricane areas, get hurricane straps, pieces of galvanized steel that keep the frame of your house intact.
Finally, rely on an expert, which is your insurance agent. Not only do you want to have home insurance for disasters, but insurance companies are experts at advice on how to protect yourself.
Go to your agent, and get an itemized list of everything your insurance company recommends to have ready and in standby in your area. There will often be many side things recommended to protect both your home and your lives.
For example, have a fireproof safe where you can easily retrieve copies of all your documents such as birth certificates, social security numbers, driver licenses, passports, your insurance agencies 24-hour hotline phone number and more.
Keep duplicate copies in a local safe deposit box. By having this information available within a couple of minutes, you and your family can save countless hours later if you need to go to a shelter or contact FEMA to help your file a claim for emergency help.