Global natural disasters are events that you can’t prevent, but there are ways that you can prepare for disasters that may happen in your home. The following 5 tips will show you how to minimize damage before disaster strikes and help you create a disaster-ready home. Of course, you already have a good homeowners insurance policy in place, right?
While you prepare for disasters, you’ll also want to check that your homeowner’s insurance policy gives you the correct coverage. Does your policy give you the proper limits to cover replacements or to fix the worst possible damage to your home? Make sure you know what’s covered so you can be prepared in case a disaster does strike your home. Keep insurance policies, important documents and other valuables in a safe and secure location.
1. Make sure outside items are secure. Depending on where you live, your area may experience strong, even hurricane-force winds, sometime during the year. Don’t let the infrequency of powerful gusts give you a false sense of security. To prevent damage from flying materials on your property, be sure to secure your barbeque grills, trash cans, patio and lawn furniture, children’s
playgrounds, tools, etc.
2. Keep your tree branches trimmed. Sure, you’re keeping your yard looking good when you trim extremely long branches, but this also has safety benefits as well. Strong winds can cause large branches to break and come crashing down on you or your house, damaging your roof. Trees in areas prone to lightning can also be a danger, vulnerable to lightning strikes. Your local utility company may also help disaster proof homes by cutting branches that sit on or are close to power lines; you won’t have to pay for the trimming in this case.
3. Board up the windows. If the area that you live in tends to have hurricanes, you should have pre-cut 5/8” marine plywood or hurricane shutters made. During hurricane weather, these panels or shutters will help prevent or minimize window breakage and protect injury from shattered glass. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
4. Maintain your home throughout the year. Effective disaster-proofing includes repairing any cracks in the walls, ceilings and foundations before a disaster can occur.
5. Check out the top and bottom of the house. At least once a year, you should have the roof and the foundation of the house checked. Loose shingles on the roof should be repaired and the foundation of the house should be able to hold through a hurricane. If you have an older home, have a professional secure the foundation by using half inch anchor bolts and earthquake brackets. Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure to reduce roof damage.
In addition to following the above tips to prepare for disaster, insurance companies recommend taking pictures or even videotaping all of your home and its contents to be used as references. By having these visual records in place, you’ll be able to verify if anything was lost or damaged in the disaster, also making the claims process a little smoother as well.
How have you disaster-proofed your home? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.