Preparing for a DisasterHome disasters do happen, and preparing your home for a disaster is a worthwhile thing to do. Your geographical location and history will give you an idea of the type of incident you may experience, so don’t prepare for a flood on top of a mountain!  That might seem facetious but you would be surprised at how some people fail to think when considering disaster preparation.

If you live in the Western states you might experience earthquakes, and in coastal regions tsunamis are not impossible. Tornadoes are common in central areas of the USA and hurricanes in the southeasterly and Gulf states. However, there are also certain problems that can occur anywhere, such as storms and floods (other than at the top of that mountain!).  Here are some tips on preparing your home for a disaster, and dealing with home disasters in general.

1. Identify the Most Likely Risk

The above comments are just a rough guide. FLASH (Federal Alliance for Safe Homes) provides an online map identifying the main risks for each state in the USA. You must understand the nature of your likely home disasters before you can make preparations, and you should also establish the extent to which you are insured should certain natural occurrences cause damage to you, your family and your home.

2.  Preparing Your Home For a Disaster

Can you do anything to reduce the damage to your home and improve your chances of survival? Is your roof secured, for example, and would hurricane straps help? There are steps you can take to reduce the chances of that happening.

Do you have a safe cellar that will not flood should you have to use it?  Do you have any other form of safe room?  Brace your end walls so they do not blow down, and install safety shutters and reinforced glass in your windows. Do not do this yourself – all of the above work is best carried out by a professional.  Compare the cost of that to the cost of a new home if you query the expense.  Some insurance companies will refuse to pay out if you have not taken the basic safety steps.

3.  Be Equipped for Home Disasters

When preparing your home for a disaster you must get yourself a disaster safety kit together.  Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, a means of emergency communication (cell phone or battery radio,) and a flashlight with spare batteries. A first aid kit with antibiotics is essential as are emergency food and water. Buy a water filter that purifies flood water. A tool kit should comprise a knife, axe, hammer and can opener at minimum. Rope might also be useful, and an inflatable boat might be a good idea.

Also make sure you have a full list of the contents of your home – you could arrange for that to be held by your insurance company. An emergency phone number list might also be useful (police, doctor, hospital, fire station, local authorities) as will a bag with clean, dry clothes packed in a plastic bag.

These should be stored in an agreed location, so that every member of the family knows where they are. Spare house and car keys could also be included along with essential supplies for your young children if any.

4.  Devise an Emergency Plan

Create an emergency plan and make sure that all family members know it in their sleep! The plan could include where to meet if separated – including in the home, close to the house if that becomes necessary and a meeting place should it be necessary to abandon the area altogether.

Each family member should know how to close off utilities such as gas, electricity and water, and in certain areas where home disasters are liable to occur, each should receive instruction in emergency CPR.  Make sure everybody understands the plan, and how carry it out. “It cannot happen to me” is a common saying, but the sad fact is that it can – and it does!  Preparing your home for a disaster might keep your family together – and alive!