How To Prepare Your Home For Natural Disaster

Hanna KielarAugust 22, 2019

No one wants to consider the possibility that a natural disaster could affect them or their home. But the reality is that it happens to thousands of people every year. While you can’t prevent natural disasters, you can prepare for them. Here are some tips to prepare your home for a natural disaster.

Create A Plan Of Action

The most important thing you can do to prepare for any type of disaster is to have a plan in place. Not only do you need to create a plan, you need to communicate it to your entire family so that everyone’s on the same page. You want to ensure your plan is still effective, even if certain family members aren’t home during that time.

After making a plan, you need to practice executing the plan. Practice it immediately to work out any potential problems or issues, then put it on your calendar to repeat your practice on a regular basis. Consider practicing your emergency plan every six months at the same time you check your fire alarm batteries.

After creating and practicing an emergency response plan, the next thing you should do is physically prepare your home and family for an emergency.

Storing Documents And Photos

While we’re mostly a digital society, there are still papers that you’ll need in the face of disaster. Be sure to store your documents somewhere water and fire-resistant. It’s best to keep them in a safe spot considering disaster can strike at any moment, many times without warning. This way you can quickly grab them or recover them later if you’re not able to get them out of your home.

Carlos Chiossone, founder and director of operations of N2NGO Disaster Response, suggests an easy way to store documents is by placing them in plastic bags. Then put all the plastic bags inside one larger plastic bag. Chiossonesuggests lining the larger bag with something like paper so others can’t easily see what’s in the bag. Another option would be to use a small fireproof safe to protect your documents in case of a disaster.

Documents That You Should Store Safely:

●     Passport

●     Social Security card

●     Home insurance policy

●     Important photographs

Additionally, be sure to take the time to scan all of the above documents. You should save copies of the scanned documents outside your home on a cloud server or on a thumb drive that can be stored somewhere safe. You’ll want to make sure that all digital files are password-protected as well.

Build An Emergency Kit

An emergency kit is essential for your home. Regardless of the disastrous situation you might encounter, having an emergency kit will always be preferred to not having one at all.

Things You Should Have In An Emergency Kit:

●     2 days worth of non-perishable food

●     One gallon of water per person per day (including pets)

●     Refillable water bottles

●     Shelf stable food – pick foods that are high in calories and nutritional value that don’t require any preparation or special storage conditions

●     Disposable utensils, plates, cups and napkins

●     Special food for pets or babies

●     Manual can opener

●     Backup charger for cell phones

●     Clean clothes

●     Simple tools – knife, rope, duct tape

●     Cash

●     Medication and first-aid kit, including sunscreen and bug spray

●     Battery-powered radio

●     Flashlight and extra batteries

●     Lighter or waterproof matches

●     Prescription medication

●     Tarps

●     Sleeping bags or blankets (for each person)

●     Personal hygiene items including hand sanitizer, toilet paper and toiletries

●     Emergency whistle

●     Pepper spray

Igor Mitic, co-founder of Fortunly, makes a great point about the bag or box that you choose to store your emergency kit in. “Don’t choose a box that’s too big since it may not be too practical. Instead, opt for something smaller that can be securely closed.”

Depending on the emergency you encounter, you might need to hunker down with your emergency kit, or you might need to grab it and run. Be sure to store your kit in a safe but easily accessible place, such as a shelf in your garage. You might also want to consider adding a second, smaller emergency kit to your car.

Build An Emergency Savings

Like it or not, emergencies can be expensive. Even with insurance, deductibles can be financially devastating if you don’t have proper emergency savings. Set aside small amounts of money at a time to ensure that you’ll have one less worry should an emergency situation occur.

Preparing For A Fire

Fires are terrifying and unpredictable. They can hit anywhere at any time. The best way to prepare your home for a fire is to create an emergency escape plan. Identify at least two exits from every room. Have fire extinguishers and alarms on every floor of your home. If you have a two-story home or live above ground level, consider purchasing an escape ladder – it could save your life.

Preparing For A Hurricane

While hurricanes are scary and destructive, one benefit is that you get plenty of time to prepare for their imminent arrival. Know the path of the storm and the expected arrival date. Determine if your family needs to evacuate or can stay at home. Either way, determine if you need to board up any windows or fill sandbags and start this process early as it can take time. If you’re going to evacuate, know your state’s procedures for official evacuations and designated routes.

Some other additional tasks to keep in mind when preparing for a hurricane include:

●     Trim loose or overhanging branches away from your home.

●     Move all loose outdoor items like patio furniture indoors.

●     Fill your car with gas.

●     Keep your phone charged.

●     Keep emergency evacuation items together in case your plans have to change.

Preparing For A Tornado

Tornadoes can appear suddenly and destroy everything in their path. In the event of a tornado, the best thing for your family is to be in a safe space. Plan in advance and communicate that safe space with everyone in your household.

According to Sadie Cornelius at Safe Smart Living, the ideal safe space during a tornado will be on the ground floor of the home. Select a room without windows, even if it is a hallway, closet or bathroom.

In the event of a tornado, you should enter your safe space and surround yourself with soft items such as mattresses, blankets and pillows. Keep all windows and doors shut and use your arms to protect your head and neck.

Get familiar with the process to cut off the water, gas and electricity to your home. Taking the moment to cut these things off if a storm is nearby could significantly lessen storm damage to your home.

Preparing For Flooding

The most important thing to do to prepare for flooding is to evacuate if you’re given an evacuation order. Flood rescues can be a dangerous situation for victims as well as emergency responders and are best avoided by evacuating an area if a flood is imminent.

If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, get familiar with your evacuation route and sign up for your local emergency alerts. You might also want to consider installing a sump pump and purchasing flood insurance.

If you’re caught in a flood, do not walk through standing water. Get to higher ground as soon as possible and take any valuables with you to higher levels as well.

Natural disasters are terrifying and unpredictable. Though it can be tempting to not think about them, it is best to prepare now. While the disasters themselves are out of your control, preparing and planning is completely in your control. These tips should help you to thoroughly prepare for a disaster.

Apply For A Mortgage Online

Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.