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Home and Yard Storm Preparations

Depending on where you live, your home and yard may be at risk of damage from severe weather. People who live in coastal areas may experience hurricanes and flooding during summer and autumn, which people who live in northern climates experience snow, wind, and ice during the winter months. Tornadoes, torrential rain, and hail could also threaten a home and property. To ensure that your home and yard are ready for storms, you should perform ongoing work such as keeping your trees trimmed and cleaning gutters regularly. When a storm is imminent, you should also take care of last-minute tasks such as putting away outdoor items and covering windows and doors. Contact at least one family member to inform them of where you will be if a significant storm approaches.

Outdoor Preparations

Maintaining your property will simplify your preparations if a serious storm approaches. Keep your trees trimmed, removing weakening and dead limbs and growth that could come down in a storm. If your gutters accumulate debris, keep them clean to prevent clogs. Clogged gutters won’t route water through them, which could result in significant moisture damage to the structure of your home. Any objects that you keep outdoors in your yard will need to be relocated to the garage or basement before a storm that could send these items airborne. Remove trash cans, flower containers, outdoor furniture, flags, yard ornaments, and anything else that could blow away. Disconnect your grill from the propane tank and store both the tank and the grill in the garage. If you have large items that you cannot relocate, such as a boat, tie them down to secure them. Fill all of your vehicles with gas.

People living in locations where hurricane-force winds could threaten will need to perform specific tasks to prepare their homes. Have your roof inspected by a certified inspector or engineer to ensure that hurricane anchors and straps are anchored securely to tie-beams with the required number of nails. Roof trusses must have both horizontal and vertical braces, and roof sheathing panels must be attached securely. Check flashing, tiles, and soffits for structural integrity. Cover windows with impact-resistant shutters. Install garage door braces to keep the door in place against high winds. Entry doors also need bracing with supplemental bolt kits or with wood braces that bolt into the surrounding frame.

Indoor Preparations

Take steps to prepare the inside of your home as well. Turn up the settings on your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest levels. Fill water jugs and freeze them, which will help keep your freezer cold longer if you lose power. Have one gallon of water per day stored for every person in your family. Bleach the bathtub to clean it, then fill it with water to be used for bathing if you lose access to running water. You will also need supplies for your family during the storm and immediately after it. Stock up on non-perishable food and beverages in cans and boxes, and have a manual can opener. Create a safe room that you and your family can use: The room should have a mattress, plastic sheeting, sleeping bags, pillows, batteries, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, food, and water. If you have children, include toys and games to keep them busy. Relocate any valuables you have in your home to the safe room. If you have a propane tank, disconnect it at the tank, and unplug electrical items such as computers and televisions.

Other Preparations

Examine your insurance policies so you understand your coverage: Standard homeowners’ policies often exclude damage from flooding, hurricanes, and earthquakes. You should purchase additional coverage for this type of damage if you live in areas where you are more likely to experience these events. Make a list of your valuables, listing their approximate value and the date of purchase of each item. Record a video of your home inventory, and keep your home inventory list and recording with a family member who lives outside of your geographic region or in a safe deposit box at a bank. Store important documents such as birth certificates, mortgage documentation, and insurance policies in a safe deposit box, too.

By Alan Bernau Jr.

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