It can feel great to transform an empty house or apartment into your chic personal space, with family photos decking the walls, a flat screen TV programmed to your favorite channels and a dog or cat nestled on your side of the bed. Yet this feeling of comfort can disappear in the blink of an eye if a natural disaster strikes.
No matter where you live in the U.S., your home is susceptible to damage from natural elements. Whether you face the threat of a tornado, a flash flood or a hurricane, you need a plan of action to ensure the safety of your home — and everyone in it.
Learn about Potential Threats
Where you live in the country affects the types of natural disasters you might encounter. There’s little likelihood of a tornado in California, for instance, but the state is bombarded with wildfires on a regular basis. Arizona may never see floods, but can be all too familiar with droughts. Once you know more about the risks you might face, you can better arm yourself against them.
This infographic from Business Insider outlines the unforeseen weather that residents are most likely to encounter in each state. Keep an eye on any unexplained weather patterns, and register your smartphone to receive alerts when there’s severe weather in your area.
Stock Enough Supplies
Once you know what to watch for, what’s the best way to start planning? It’s important to have enough supplies in case your power goes out and you wind up stranded at home. Here’s a rundown of some of the essentials to help you get through three or four days, or until help arrives. Pack all these rations in a waterproof, weather-resistant bag, and keep it in a place where it’ll be easy to find in the event of a disaster:
- Plenty of water
- Non-perishable canned goods
- Hand-operated can opener
- Candles and flares, matches
- Cellphones and chargers
- Cash, credit cards, documents
Hatch a Plan
Even the most prepared renters and homeowners hit the panic button if they see a hurricane watch or a blizzard warning on TV. This is the time that your family most needs you to keep it together. Call a family or roommate meeting in advance of a potential storm, so you can all collaborate on a game plan for quickly evacuating your house or finding shelter.
Post a simple checklist, and if you’ve got children, help them make up a song to remember the plan. Even kids at heart can take turns drawing their version of the evacuation map to make the route easier to remember. Put them on the fridge to keep them easily accessible in a central location — and to show off your artwork.
Fortify your Fortress
No matter how much planning you do inside the house, you still take a chance on experiencing structural damage outside the house.
Homeowners should take precautions to avoid structural damage due to floods, earthquakes, fires or tornadoes, among other things. Durable storm shutters and wind-resistant windows can withstand powerful gusts and flying debris. Dig deep into gutters to unclog them and facilitate the flow of floodwater, get rid of dead plants that can catch fire easily, and install shingles that are tough against wind, fire and water.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to fend off a natural disaster, but preparing in advance can be a fun, interactive project that may even help save a life. Home repair can be costly after a weather event, so plan ahead and practice often.