How to Prepare Your Home for the Storm Season
Meteorologists must be feeling a lot of job security these days, given the winter that never seemed to end and the summer-like storms and tornadoes hitting across the Midwest this spring.
Meanwhile, for the Atlantic coast, the hurricane season begins on June 1, and NASA satellites and ocean sensors suggest that we could be facing a formidable El Niño. That means the water in the central and eastern Pacific could be warmer than normal, leading to more extreme storms.
If you’re concerned that your home or condo isn’t prepared for a hit, here are some steps you can take to prepare.
Imagine a storm is coming. That is, don’t wait until you hear a hurricane, tornado, or thunderstorm of the century approaching. Maria LaRosa, a meteorologist who co-hosts “AMHQ with Sam Champion” on The Weather Channel, thinks about storms day and night and says she always feels bad when she sees people lining up, waiting for batteries and gas for the generator.
“Those are things you can take care of beforehand, so you don’t have to be fighting at the last minute. Don’t be that person,” he advises.
Sabine Schoenberg, a home improvement blogger at sabineshome.com who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, agrees. “You don’t want to get stuck in the long lines at the grocery store,” he says. “Dedicate a section in your pantry or pantry cabinet for water, freeze-dried and canned foods for storm emergencies.” She advises storing food for three days.
Schoenberg also suggests having a generator ready. “They are the new essentials,” he says.
LaRosa has one that is big enough to run a refrigerator and plug in a few things. “It’s not a mega-one that works for the whole house, but we feel comfortable having it,” he says. “So that’s probably what I would recommend: Take stock of what you think you would need if you didn’t. I have no electricity for a few days. You may want one for your sump pump, for example, so your basement stays dry. “
This is also a good time to check with your insurance adjuster if you haven’t thought about your homeowners insurance for a while.
“Before disaster strikes it’s time to sit down with your insurance agent to make sure you are correctly insured“says Greg Raab, director of operations for Adjusters International, a public disaster recovery and adjustment company based in Utica, New York. If you live in an area that has hurricanes and floods, he emphasizes the importance of getting insurance that protect it.
Raab adds that standard homeowners policies do not include flood insurance. “Although limited in what it covers, the floods insurance it is provided through the National Flood Insurance Program and works differently from standard homeowners coverage, ”he says.
Secure the house. If a hurricane or tornado is heading straight for your home, there isn’t much you can do to really protect it. In that sense, LaRosa says, “a lot of times we show people (on TV) covering windows if a big storm is coming, but time and time again, it has proven to be a waste of time.”
If time is short and this seems like a punishing storm, LaRosa says you better gather family items and important paperwork, prepare your shelter, and adjust your evacuation route.
But you want to insure your home. Eric Van De Steeg, owner of Van De Steeg Roofing & Associates in Oklahoma City, recommends installing shutters, roof clips, and garage door braces. Van De Steeg refers to functional and non-decorative shutters. The garage door braces are attached to the garage door to help prevent it from blowing off. Ceiling clips have the same function, only they are installed on a ceiling.
None of these items are exactly cheap. Multiple shutters can cost hundreds of dollars. Garage door clamps typically cost between $ 100 and $ 200. Roof clips often cost less than a dollar, but unless you’re a technician, you’ll want to hire a professional to install them.
“We haven’t seen as many people using actual garage door braces, roof clips and shutters as you might think, even with increasing severe weather and changing weather patterns,” admits Van De Steeg. But it recommends that people who live in areas frequently hit by hurricanes or tornadoes consider using them.
“When it comes to EF3, 4 and 5 tornadoes, you face wind gusts of up to 200 mph. It’s always smart to be too prepared rather than poorly prepared. We don’t want people to lose their homes,” Van De Steeg says.
Tree care. Sure, they are beautiful and give us oxygen, but some trees are your enemy, they just bide their time until lightning causes them to crash into the living room window.
If you are unsure about the health of a tree, consider hiring an arborist to inspect and possibly remove it (expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars). But you may be able to determine on your own whether it is healthy or not. Look for bare branches at the top of the tree, which could be a sign that your tree is in bad shape. Also, take a look close to the base. Are the roots extended to one side of the tree? That could be a sign that your tree will eventually fall over.
If trees are touching your roof, trim them back, advises Van De Steeg. “When the winds pick up, they will hit tree branches against the roof, and that scraping can lift parts of the roof,” says Van De Steeg.
Even if your trees look healthy, you should keep them that way. “Trim them and let the wind blow through them without much damage,” Schoenberg suggests. He also advises re-leveling the soil around the trees, which means incorporating clay and soil to strengthen the soil. “Direct the water so that it is removed and avoid turning the soil into a sponge, because then the roots of the trees will have nothing to hold on to,” he says.
And don’t forget the rest of the landscape, says Van De Steeg. “Keep debris out of your yard and you can prevent minor damage from turning into major damage,” he says.
Make a plan. Know where to go when the storm hits. Some homes are simply not safe to stay in when the weather gets really rough.
“If you live in a mobile home and are under the watch of a tornado, this could be the night to spend at a friend’s house. Mobile homes just aren’t built to withstand a storm like that,” LaRosa says.
If you have a family plan, he says that it is important that the whole family know the details. “Indicate your children,” LaRosa says. “So if the plan is that if something happens, call Grandma or go next door, your kids should know.”
That’s good advice, because all the worry about him health of your house during a storm it may be a bit out of place. You never want to lose sight of the fact that your primary concern is not your home, it is the people who live there.