From wildfires and hurricanes to tornadoes and floods, natural disasters leave a trail of destruction in their wake. While there's no fool-proof way to detect when and where a disaster will strike, you can protect yourself and your family from potential harm by preparing your home. Even if your home is never hit with a natural disaster, doing so will give you peace of mind knowing that you are ready to handle it.
Review Homeowner's Insurance
Go over your homeowner's insurance policy to determine what's covered and what's not. If your home is damaged by a disaster that's not covered by your policy, you may be forced to pay for repairs out of pocket. Normally, homeowner's insurance covers damage from fire, wind, vandalism, lighting and hail. It does not cover flood or earthquake damage. If your home is flooded with 18 inches of water, you can expect to pay around $26,285 for restoration and repair services. Alternatively, you add flood insurance to your homeowner's insurance policy.
Create an Emergency Kit
An emergency kit can offer life-saving resources to you and your family during a natural disaster. You can use it to tread injuries, receive weather updates, signal for help and more.
Here are some essential items to include in your home's emergency kit:
Even if you already have most of these items in your home, consolidating them into a kit provides a higher level of convenience and utility. You'll have an easier time grabbing a single kit than trying to find each of these items in different rooms of your home during a natural disaster.
Perform a Preparedness Audit
Conducting a preparedness audit of your home will give you a better idea of whether it's ready to handle a natural disaster. This involves inspecting your home for vulnerabilities and safeguards that influence how a natural disaster may affect you. If your home has a leaky roof, a hurricane could cause severe flooding. If there's a dead tree hovering over your home, strong winds could uproot it, sending the tree falling on your home. Perform a preparedness audit to identify vulnerabilities such as these.
You should also upgrade your home with impact-resistant windows, especially if you live in a region where hurricanes are common. Statistics show, for instance, that an average of two hurricanes will make landfall on the East Coast each year, 40 percent of which hit Florida. Impact-resistant windows are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds, high atmospheric pressure and airborne debris. While standard windows easily shatter in these conditions, impact-resistant windows remain stable and secure.
Create an Action Plan
What will you and your family do if a natural disaster strikes? Rather than making this decision spontaneously when the moment arrives, it's recommended that you create an action plan in advance. You might want to designate a meeting place where family members can gather and plan a route to reach this place. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers some helpful tips for creating an action plan on its Ready.gov website. At minimum, though, an action plan should reveal the steps family members should take during and after a natural disaster.
These are just a few ways to prepare your home for a natural disaster. You should also consider holding practice drills with family members. By investing the necessary time and resources into planning, you'll increase the chance of a positive outcome.