This month, we’re promoting disaster preparedness and safety tips. Disasters are often unexpected, so it’s critical that you and your family are prepared for whatever disaster might strike.
If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters, it is especially important to be prepared. Disasters can occur at any time, so you should always be ready. Keep your emergency kits updated and review your emergency plan regularly. By taking simple steps now, you can help ensure that you and your loved ones are safe in the event of a disaster.
Protect your loved ones with these safety tips
To keep you and your family safe during a disaster, follow these safety tips:
- Create an emergency plan. It’s important to have a clear plan of action that you can take in order to ensure your family's safety. Predetermine evacuation routes, meeting points and safety measures to take while keeping the family reminded of the emergency plan regularly.
- Build an emergency kit and stock up on supplies. Make sure that your family has everything they need to survive for multiple days. Build an emergency kit packed with essentials including nonperishable food, at least two gallons of water per person and first aid supplies. Be sure to also stock specialty items such as pet supplies, medications, a change of clothes, and blankets.
- Stay informed. Stay up to date on local area alerts. Every state has an emergency alert website that is constantly updated. Check their website regularly for updates and download any applicable apps to your smartphone to receive timely alerts.
- Teach your kids about preparedness. It’s never too early to start teaching your children about emergency preparedness. Help them understand what natural disasters are, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados; how to protect themselves from severe weather and house fires; and where to go and who to contact during an emergency. Teach them the evacuation plan and show them where the emergency kit is stored.
- Identify the safest area in and out of your home. In the event of a flood, always go to a higher floor. If you live in a one-story house, carefully escape the home through a window and stay on top of the roof. If a tornado is in the area, go to a basement or an interior room on the bottom floor of your home. If you experience an earthquake, avoid windows and open areas where furniture could topple over. Find a safe place such as interior doorways, windowless hallways, and closets. If there is a fire, find the nearest exit quickly and get as far away from the home as you can.
Be prepared for every type of disaster
One of the most important reasons for preparing for a disaster is because they can strike at any time, and often without warning. Such emergencies can include natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, man-made disasters like terrorist attacks, and public health emergencies like disease outbreaks. Learn how to be prepared for and protect against every type of disaster.
To prepare your home for a hurricane, board up your windows with wooden panels, stock up on food and water, and keep a generator, candles and flashlights easily accessible in case you lose power. Depending on the severity of the storm, always consider an evacuation plan to keep you and your family safe. Designate a safe location you can retreat to and always leave your home days before the storm, not hours.
If you live in an area where earthquakes are common, there are a few steps you can take to increase safety and prevent damage to your home when an earthquake strikes. Have the structure of your home inspected annually and make repairs when needed, securely fasten wall hangings and tall furniture to your walls, and keep hallways and doorways clear.
Maintain your property by trimming dead tree limbs, have the roof inspected regularly, designate a safe space (most likely a basement) that is free of windows, and equip your home with a tornado alarm, so you can alert your family and neighbors if a tornado is spotted.
To prepare for flooding, keep large bags of sand accessible to quickly stack in front of exterior doors, keep your lawn free and clear of anything that could be washed away, and determine the best route to follow should your home be flooded.
As we all know too well, health outbreaks are increasingly common and hazardous. Keep a healthy supply of water, nonperishable food such as rice, beans and canned goods, and household essentials such as toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies. Be prepared to quarantine in your home for days or weeks at a time. In addition, you can also invest in air purifiers to increase home health and safety measures.
Before the winter season sets in, stock up on food, water and essentials in the event you get snowed in and are unable to leave the house. Be sure to stock up with extra water in case the pipes freeze and your plumbing fails. If you lose power, remember to never operate a generator inside the home or operate a gas stove for warmth. These appliances release carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas known as the silent killer.
During the summer months, heat waves are common. To prepare your home for a heat wave, keep ice cube trays full, portable fans easily accessible, and plenty of water on hand. Remember to get your HVAC unit inspected at the beginning of the season and only run it when necessary, as overuse could cause your A/C to fail.
While uncommon, mass power outages can occur at any time, especially during extreme heat or cold, or during a storm. Always keep flashlights easily accessible. In fact, it is recommended to have a flashlight stored in all common areas of the home including your nightstand, kitchen, and laundry room. Invest in battery-operated devices including portable chargers, fans and cooking appliances. Lastly, keep essentials within reach, know where your breaker box is located and consider purchasing a generator if power outages are frequent.
The best way to prepare for a fire is to have an evacuation plan in place by locating all possible exit routes. In the event of a contained fire, keep a fire extinguisher on-hand and teach family members about fire safety. To better protect your home in the event of a fire, invest in fire-retardant home furnishings including curtains, rugs and upholstered furniture.
Before and after a disaster, get a home inspection
To prepare for weather-related disasters, homeowners can work with local home inspectors to assess the current condition of their home. Highly trained and certified inspectors will be able to accurately evaluate any current damage and provide recommendations for repairs.
After a natural disaster, a full home inspection can help with insurance claims as well as restoring the home back to its prior condition.
As a homeowner, it’s important to know about wind mitigation inspections and how they can help reduce the damage your home may suffer in the event of a strong windstorm or hurricane. This is a visual examination of the home to identify features that could lessen the impact of high winds, including the roof design and materials, eaves, gables, shutters, doors, and windows. If your home has any of these features, you may qualify for a wind mitigation discount on your homeowner's insurance policy. This discount can be significant, so if you live in an area with frequent high winds, it could be worth getting a wind mitigation inspection with WIN.
A natural disaster can cause a lot of damage to your home, but a home inspection with WIN can help assess the damage and get you back to living comfortably in your home. Let one of our certified and professional inspectors evaluate your home so you can have peace of mind that everything is in good condition. If you’ve recently experienced a natural disaster, our inspectors are here to walk you through the damage and can help you get your home repaired and ready for any disaster that could come your way. Contact your local WIN Home Inspector today!