Weather Emergencies: Hope for the Best but Prepare for the Worst
Guest post by Angelo DiGangi
Regardless of where you live in this country, you are subject to the wrath of Mother Nature. From June through November, coastal residents from Texas to Maine keep a watchful eye on hurricanes arriving from the east. Meanwhile, in spring and early summer, people who live in Oklahoma, Kansas and the surrounding states hunker down almost nightly, hoping that tornadoes pass them by without wreaking too much havoc.
Earthquakes occasionally shake things up in California, snowstorms are common throughout the northern states and ice falls from the sky as far south as Texas, Alabama and Mississippi, causing hazardous driving conditions and lengthy power outages.
If you are prepared for violent weather, you’ll have a much better chance to recover quickly and return to normalcy.
Up and Running
For obvious reasons, a portable generator is an excellent piece of equipment to have when violent weather threatens. If you lose your electricity, you’ll be able to keep some of your appliances up and running, especially your air conditioning and refrigerator. Before a storm arrives, however, you should make sure your generator is in working condition.
- Do you have enough gas or diesel to run your generator for at least a few days?
- Did you check the oil in the generator and do you have extra oil?
- Is your generator operating outside? Remember: The generator emits carbon dioxide gas and cannot be inside a building. Operating a generator inside a building is a fire hazard as well.
- Will you hook the generator to your home’s electrical panel through a transfer switch rather than using extension cords?
- Are you avoiding overloading the generator by using it only for necessities?
- Did you hire a licensed electrician to install the connections and transfer switches?
Pump the Water Out
A sump pump, to remove water from your basement, is also a useful piece of equipment, but you’ll need a water pump with a battery backup if your home’s electricity is out. You can test it beforehand by slowly pouring a five-gallon bucket of water into the pit that holds the pump. This should activate the pump and the water should be directed outside. If this test fails, you should call a plumber and make sure the equipment is working before trouble arrives in the form of heavy rain, a hurricane or flooding – or all three.
Taking Care of Your Home
Long before bad weather arrives, you should get your home ready for a weather emergency. There are several things you can do to help protect your most valuable possession.
- If you are replacing your windows, go with an impact-resistant window system. Another option would be to install impact-resistant shutters that help keep flying debris away from your windows.
- Make sure your front door has a minimum of three hinges and a dead bolt at least an inch long, and be certain that the door frame is anchored securely to the wall framing.
- If your house has sliding glass doors, consider using impact-resistant door systems made from laminated glass or a combination of plastic and glass. If a hurricane or tornado is on the way, cover the entire door, and your windows as well, with shutters made of plywood.
- A single door on a two-car garage is much more vulnerable to wind damage than two separate doors. You can get in touch with the door’s manufacturer to see if you can purchase a temporary center support that can be easily attached when bad weather threatens and removed when the skies clear.
- You should keep your shrubs and trees trimmed to reduce the chance that limbs will fall on or fly into your home.
- Check with your insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage on your home. Your policy probably doesn’t include coverage for floods, even those that are associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, which was established by Congress in 1968.
Surviving the Storm
Your home is important, of course, but so is your safety and well-being when violent weather arrives. You should put together a disaster supply kit, a stockpile of items you will need to survive if you are without electricity and a safe water supply. These items include:
- A battery-operated radio;
- A flashlight;
- Extra batteries;
- Three gallons of water per person, in plastic containers;
- A three-to-five day supply of food items that don’t require refrigeration or preparation, such as dry cereal; peanut butter; canned fruit, vegetables and juice; ready-to-eat canned meats and soups; and energy snacks.
- A first aid kit that includes sunscreen, bandages, Band-Aids, aspirin, laxatives, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids and insect repellent.
- Tools and supplies, including paper and pencil; needles and thread; assorted nails and screws; cash; duct tape; pliers, a screwdriver and a hammer; rope; a manual can opener; paper cups and plates and plastic utensils; and a hard-copy map of the area. Don’t depend on your smart phone to help you get where you want to go – cellular networks might be down during severe weather.
- Soap, liquid detergent, toilet paper, towelettes, paper towels and other hygiene items.
- Blankets or sleeping bags.
- Extra clothing.
You can’t control the weather, but you can do your best to get ready for whatever Mother Nature might bring.
Author’s bio: Angelo DiGangi, a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago area, frequently contributes to the Home Depot website on plumbing issues and other homeowner concerns. Angelo’s interests range from providing tips on sump pumps and water pumps to discussing the latest in bathroom fixtures.