Home Safety After a Storm – Things to Prioritize

Storms are unpredictable, cause damage, and can be very dangerous. Be prepared before, during, and after a storm. Doing so keeps your family safe, protects your investment, and reduces the severity of storm damage. When a storm is on the way, here are ways to prepare:

Make Sure Your Electrical System is Up to Code

Your electrical system is one of the most critical parts of your home, and it needs to be up to code to avoid hazards. If your home is more than 40 years old, it’s a good idea to have a dependable electrician check your system to ensure it meets current safety standards. A storm can cause your electrical system to fail, and outdated wiring is a fire hazard. Other measures that protect your electrical system are:

  • Trim trees and shrubs near power lines
  • Secure outdoor furniture and trash cans
  • Unplug electronics and appliances
  • Use surge protectors for electronics

Know Your Local Storm Shelters

In the event of severe weather, you may need to take shelter. Know the location of your nearest storm shelter and have a plan for how you’ll get there if severe weather strikes. Check with your local emergency management office or Red Cross chapter for information on storm shelters in your area.

Have a Disaster Supply Kit Ready

A disaster supply kit is a collection of essential items you need to survive in the event of an emergency. Your kit should include:

  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Radio
  • Cell phone charger
  • Clothing and bedding
  • Important documents
  • Money

Some of these items, like water and non-perishable food, are things you should always have. Others, like a first aid kit, are specific to an emergency. Keep your disaster supply kit in an easily accessible place and ensure everyone in your family knows where it is.

Prepare Your Home for High Winds

High winds are one of the most dangerous aspects of storms. They cause damage to the electric grid, knock out power, and can uproot trees. They can also damage your home’s roof, windows, and siding. To prepare for high winds:

  • Secure outdoor furniture and trash cans
  • Trim trees and shrubs
  • Repair loose gutters and downspouts
  • Install hurricane shutters or plywood over windows
  • Strengthen your garage door

Inspect the Plumbing System

Storms can cause flooding, which puts your home’s plumbing system at risk. Floodwater damages pipes and fixtures, making it difficult to clean up afterward. Damage to the plumbing and electrical systems leads to shorts and fires. Inspect your plumbing system regularly and make repairs as needed to prevent damage from flooding. Before the storm:

  • Know the location of your main water shut-off valve
  • Inspect all the pipes for leaks, cracks, or breaks
  • Tighten any loose fittings
  • Repair or replace any damaged pipes

Prepare Your Septic Tank

If your home has a septic tank, prepare it for a storm. A full septic tank will overflow during heavy rains, and the floodwater will damage your home’s foundation. Actions to take include:

  • Pump the tank every two to three years
  • Inspect the tank and drain field for damage
  • Repair any cracks or breaks in the tank or pipes
  • Make sure the tank has a tight-fitting lid
  • Install a backwater valve to prevent sewage from backing up into your home

Get a Generator

A generator can keep your home’s essentials running during a power outage. Choose a generator that’s the right size for your needs and know how to operate it before the power goes out.

Create an Evacuation Plan

In severe weather, you may need to evacuate your home. Know what to do and where to go if you need to leave. Your evacuation plan should include:

  • A designated meeting place for your family
  • A list of local shelters
  • A route to get to your meeting place or shelter
  • An outline of how you’ll evacuate the pets

Practice your evacuation plan regularly so everyone in your family knows what to do.

Inspect Your Roof and Gutters

Your roof and gutters are your first line of defense against severe weather. They cause serious problems like water damage and leaks when weak or damaged. Inspect your roof and gutters regularly and make repairs as needed. Before the storm:

  • Inspect your roof for loose or missing shingles
  • Inspect your gutters for debris and clogs
  • Clean your gutters
  • Repair any leaks or damage
  • Have a professional inspect the roof before the storm to ensure it’s in good condition

Check Your Insurance Coverage

Make sure your homeowner’s insurance covers storm damage. Review your policy and contact your insurance agent if you have any questions. If you don’t have insurance, now is the time to get it. Go for a policy with high coverage limits and a low deductible.

Prepare Your Finances

You may need to make repairs or replace damaged belongings in severe weather. Have money set aside in an emergency fund to cover the costs? Review your budget and cut other areas to free up money for your fund. You should also have a list of local contractors you can call for repairs.

What To Do After the Storm

What To Do After the Storm

After a severe storm that causes flooding, power blackouts, and other damage, don’t go back into your home until it’s safe. Hazards include:

  • Downed power lines
  • Damaged gas lines
  • Structural damage
  • Standing water

Have an expert inspect and recommend repairs before returning to your home. Experts to work with include:

An Electrician

The electrician will inspect the electrical system for damage and make repairs as needed. They will check the wiring, outlets, switches, and circuit breakers. They will also check for signs of water damage.

A Plumber

The plumber will inspect the plumbing system and make repairs as needed. They will check the pipes, fittings, and fixtures for leaks or damage.

A Structural Engineer

The structural engineer will inspect the home’s foundation, framing, and roof. They recommend repairs as needed.

A Contractor

The contractor will make repairs to the home as recommended by the experts. They will also help you file an insurance claim.

Take Photos of the Damage

Before making repairs, take photos of the damage for your insurance claim and date the photos. As you take pictures, create a list of all the damaged items. Include a description of the damage and, if possible, the item’s estimated value.

Storm Proof Your Home At All Times

When your home is back to normal, review your home safety plan. Update it as needed and keep it in a safe place. Review your insurance policy and make sure you have the coverage you need. Severe weather can happen anytime, be prepared.

Thank you for reading!

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