You may be stashing away cash for a “rainy day,” but is your house as prepared as you are? Bad weather can strike at any time and in any state- Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Texas– catching you and the weathermen off-guard, but if you prepare ahead of time, you can help keep your home and belongings safe no matter when the storm hits. You may not be able to prevent every type of storm damage, but you can easily decrease the risk of many problems. Read through these tips and take stock of what preparations you need to make.
- Remove dangerous tree limbs: Care of your home and yard includes caring for the trees on your property. During nice weather, trees can be a great source of shade or the perfect place for a tire swing. But in bad weather, they can turn into a huge risk. If you don’t want any tree limbs falling off and blowing into your house or a power line, it’s important to keep an eye out for any troublesome branches. Any branches that look brittle and dead or that are crossed and rubbing against each other should be taken off. While you can take care of some light pruning on your own, calling in a professional will make sure your tree is the right shape and structure to withstand high winds and strong storms.
- Use surge protectors: If lightning strikes in your area, there’s a chance it will cause a power surge in your home. This rush of electricity can fry your electronics, including computers and even large appliances. Investing in a good surge protector will help your electronic devices as well as your peace of mind. If you register your product, many surge protector producers will give you insurance that covers up to a certain amount if their product fails and harms your electronics. If you’re at home during a storm, an even better form of protection against surges is simply unplugging your devices, especially the most expensive ones.
- Double-check your roofing: Whether you’re facing storms in winter or spring, your roof needs to be in premium shape. Before storm season (whenever that might be in your area), check your shingles to make sure none are loose or missing and that there aren’t any problem areas. If you do have some damage, you may be able to fix it yourself with some cement or flashing. While you’re up there, also make sure that your gutters are cleared out so that water won’t collect on your roof or right by your home.
- Have flashlights and batteries handy: Most people know to have a flashlight somewhere in the house for those pesky power outages during storms, but is your flashlight easily reachable or is it buried in the back of some closet? When you’re without lights, you’ll want to be able to grab it in a snap. And it’s not going to do you any good if the batteries are dead. Keep an extra set nearby (and make sure they’re the right kind!) so you’ll never be left in the dark.
- Take steps to prevent flooding: Once water starts to rise in bad weather, it’s too late to take any steps to protect your home. Besides keeping your gutters clean, there are several steps you can take to lessen your risk of flood damage. First of all, go out and check your downspouts (those pipes off the gutters that carry the water to the ground). You want to make sure they are pointed away from your home and are sending water several feet away from the foundation. When it rains, also check for any spots in your yard that flood. Ideally, you want rainwater to run off from your house to the street, meaning you need a gradual slope. If you see any pooling, fix the problem with fill dirt.
- Install storm shutters: Houses in any area where there’s a threat of a hurricane would fare better with hurricane shutters. These will keep debris from smashing through windows and allow in water and strong winds that could cause the walls and roof to buckle. You can choose between steel and aluminum shutters and, depending on the kind you purchase, may be able to install them yourself. If shutters aren’t in the budget right now, at the very least make sure you have plywood measured, cut, and ready to go when the hurricane season starts.
- Store outdoor furniture: Just like tree limbs can become dangerous in high winds, your patio furniture can turn into a window-shattering missile when gust speeds pick up. When a storm is coming, the best idea is to move all loose items in your yard or on your patio into some kind of storage. But if you don’t have space for large items, secure them to your deck or something stable so they won’t come crashing into your living room.
- Review your insurance coverage: When the weatherman is telling you that a hurricane or other serious weather is almost on top of you, it might be too late to extend your insurance coverage; many insurance companies won’t allow you to update coverage once the storm is approaching. So before you’re stuck in that situation, make sure you’ve insured your home and your belongings for their full value. Flood insurance is also an important topic to discuss with your insurance agent, since it’s not normally covered in a standard policy. To be extra prepared for any future claims, you should take photos of all parts of your house so you’ll be easily able to prove damages after bad weather takes its toll.
- Insulate pipes: Bad weather doesn’t just come in the form of wind and rain. Winter weather, especially if you live in the North, can be an even bigger problem. Besides using some of the tips above, you’ll also want to do what you can to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. Grab some pipe wrapping at the hardware store and take care of pipes in unheated areas before the cold weather sets in. Ask your local water company what other precautions they’d suggest to make sure you’ve got your bases covered. These may include leaving a faucet dripping or covering the meters.