7 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Natural Disasters

From hurricanes and tornadoes to monsoons and heat waves, natural disasters can strike at any time of the year, but the extreme heat and high rainfall in the summer are the perfect combination for Mother Nature’s fury. As merciless wildfires continue to move from California to Colorado and hurricane season in full swing, it’s never been more important to be prepared for whatever natural disaster comes your way. Check out these seven ways to prepare your home for natural disasters:

  1. Secure and anchor furnishings: The last thing you want to happen in the midst of a natural disaster is a large bookshelf or your water heater to topple over and break or hurt someone. Don’t wait until an earthquake or tornado strikes to secure your appliances and other furnishings; do it right away. Large appliances, including your water heater, can be safely secured by strapping them to wall studs with flexible cable, braided wire, or metal strapping. You may also want to consider bolting your water heater to the floor to prevent a gas leak and ensure that you have a clean water source after a natural disaster. Bookshelves, cabinets, and other furniture can be anchored with metal “L” brackets, screws, eyebolts, and other tools to keep everything upright and protect its contents.
  2. Install a hurricane shutter system: If you live in a hurricane-prone region, or even in Tornado Alley, then you might want to consider installing a hurricane shutter system. Built to withstand high winds and impact from flying debris, hurricane shutters are crucial to protecting your home. There are several different types of hurricane shutter systems, including storm panels, accordion, colonial, Bahama, and roll-down. Each type of shutter system offers a different level of protection, prep time, and cost.
  3. Storm-proof your garage: Torrential rain and high winds can turn your garage into a serious danger zone. In fact, if the storm is bad enough, your garage doors can buckle and break, causing serious water damage, debris, and structural problems. Don’t let your garage get destroyed in a hurricane, tornado, or flood; secure the door with a heavy-duty brace. When anchored to the wall and floor, the brace can prevent the door from caving in and add another layer of support to the middle.
  4. Buy a backup generator: When a natural disaster occurs, it can take several days, or weeks, to get the power back up and running. This means no air conditioning, no refrigeration, and no news updates. You can make the waiting period much less agonizing by purchasing a stationary or portable, gasoline-powered generator. Depending on your specific needs and where you live, you may need the convenience and lower wattage of the portable generator, or the more powerful and more expensive stationary generator. Be sure to do a fair share of research before buying a generator.
  5. Build a storm shelter: If you live in a tornado-prone region and have seen your fair share of twisters, then it might be worth your while to invest in a storm shelter. Tornadoes are very powerful and extremely destructive. No matter how much you tornado-proof your home, powerful winds and flying debris can take down the walls of your home and severely injure you and your loved ones. Storm shelters are built strong to withstand 250-mph winds and flying debris, and although they can be pricey, it’s an investment you’ll be glad you made when you walk away unscathed.
  6. Create a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your home: Wildfires can spread in the blink of an eye. If your home is surrounded by flammable vegetation, debris, and other materials, you and your loved ones could be in a great deal of danger. According to FEMA, you can reduce the risk of fire damage to your yard and home by creating a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your property. In addition to creating a barrier, you should also take steps to prevent exposure to flames and radiant heat by raking and removing dead rubbish.
  7. Stock up on building materials: When disaster strikes, you’ll want to have a wide range of building materials on hand, such as plywood, plastic sheeting, hammer, nails, and sandbags to protect your home and prevent water damage on the inside. Pre-cut plywood panels can be used to barricade windows and doors if you do not have shutters installed. The International Code Council recommends cutting 1/2-inch plywood panels to fit each window and glass door in your house. Cut down on installation time by pre-drilling holes every 18 inches and labeling each panel so you know which window it belongs to.

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