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It’s not every day your Zoom call gets interrupted with, “Hey, everyone. I have to log off and head down to my basement. There’s a tornado not too far from here.”
That happened recently during one of our team’s conference calls, so it occurred to us that perhaps it’s time to help you prepare your home for a storm to help keep your family and property safe during severe weather events.
#1 – Make a home emergency plan
Similar to a fire evacuation plan, you also need a home emergency plan for your family. If your area is prone to tornadoes, like our founder’s, then make sure your family knows to retreat to a basement, closet, safe room, or storm shelter. If your area is prone to earthquakes, practice “drop, cover, and hold on.”
Also, have a place to meet inside the neighborhood, like a neighbor’s house or a certain tree, in case your family needs to evacuate your home. Also, pick a place outside the immediate area, like a library or a family friend’s house, in case a family member can’t make it home. This way, your family member will have a safe place to stay during a severe storm, and you also know where to find them after the storm passes.
If your area is prone to devastating storms, like hurricanes, then prepare your home for a storm by having emergency supplies. Have water for at least three days (one gallon per person per day), non-perishable food for three days, a battery-powered radio for weather updates, first aid kits, local maps, portable cell phone chargers, and more. Head over to Ready.gov for a complete list of items you need to have in your emergency kit.
#2 – Sign up for local alerts
Most local communities have an alert system, which will send messages via email or text to your phone. Generally, these automated systems will send all kinds of information, from steps your town is taking to keep you safe to the status of the local roads to tips on how to prepare for a storm. (Sometimes, they’ll even tell you if your trash pickup has been suspended for the duration of the storm.) You can usually sign up for this service on your community’s website, or if available, you can follow your town’s social media accounts.
Also, follow national weather and emergency information social media accounts, such as @NOAA, @NWS, and @FEMA. These channels will provide you with more information about impending, dangerous weather.
#3 – Be ready for a power outage
Severe weather is the leading cause of power outages, so hope for the best but plan for the worst. Preparation for an approaching storm should include:
- Buying a standby generator if your area has several severe storms throughout the season.
- Making sure you have batteries on hand for flashlights.
- Checking that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are operational and have back-up batteries.
- Investing in surge protectors and turning off any electronics and appliances to prevent damage in case of a power surge.
- Getting a solar charger for your phone.
- Filling up large ziplocks with water and packing your freezer with them. (If the power does go out, you will have a bunch of ice to keep things cool and fresh water as it melts. VP of Content Jeff did this in preparation for Superstorm Sandy.)
If you or someone within your home needs power to run medical devices, you can reach out to your utility company. They may add your area to a priority service list for faster reconnection.
If you have refrigerated medicine, don’t forget to call your local pharmacy and find out how to handle power outages. After all, even with refrigerator and freezer doors closed, food can only stay cold for approximately four hours.
#4 – Don’t forget outdoor preparation, too
Prepare your home for a storm by preparing your exterior and property. Move your car to a safe location, one that usually doesn’t flood. Secure your patio furniture. (Don’t let your patio umbrella fly through your neighbor’s window.) Protect your home by covering windows and doors with plywood or plastic shields as needed.
Prior to every (winter and summer) storm season, you should also visually inspect the trees on and around your property. Walk around the exterior of your home and make note of any dangerous limbs and trees. If you’re able to cut the threatening branches safely, do so. For any sickly trees or precarious branches, call a professional for assistance.
#5 – Review your home insurance
Summer storms can do a lot of danger to your home, so take some time to review your homeowners insurance. If you’re uncertain about gaps in coverage, such as flood or disaster insurance, give your agency a call. Tell them your concerns, and they’ll make sure you have the appropriate insurance coverage for the severe weather your home might see this summer.
Don’t forget to sign up for vipHomeLink
Severe weather poses serious risks to your family and your home. Prepare your home for a storm with the help of vipHomeLink. Our vipTIPs help to prepare your home for extreme weather, including tips on how to prepare your home for hurricane season, how to pick out a standby generator, and a quick guide to homeowner insurance. Plus, we’ll help you keep track of home maintenance to keep your home safe all year round, not just during the summer months.
Sign up for vipHomeLink today. Safe “home-ing!”