Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, and earthquakes affect millions of people every year, and there’s no sign that this will change anytime soon.
These natural disasters put countless people in serious danger, and they also cause a significant amount of damage. Since these natural disasters can strike virtually anywhere, all homeowners should prepare for the worst.
Here your guide to the natural disaster recovery process:
1. Collect your Important Financial Documents
Make sure to collect your important financial documents along with your valuables. You will need them to file insurance claims, pay bills and take care of family members. Some of the important documents include:
- legal certificates
- powers of attorney
- insurance policies
- social security cards
- your checkbook
- bank account information
2. Obtain Homeowners’ Insurance
First, make sure you have homeowners’ insurance that will cover a significant amount of repairs in the event of natural disaster recovery. Basic policies may not cover certain damage caused by natural disasters, such as floods. It’s important to review your policy and look into obtaining more coverage so your home is completely protected.
3. Repair the Cracks Around the Doors and Windows
The high winds of a storm can blow the rain hard enough to push it against your home. If there are small cracks and holes around your doors and windows, the moisture can make its way inside and cause water damage. Prevent this problem by applying a fresh layer of caulk around the points of entry in your home before the rainy season begins.
4. Save Receipts
It is vital to save the receipts for repairs and temporary lodging to submit to your insurance company. If you are not fully reimbursed for these expenses, they may be tax-deductible.
5. Install New Garage Doors
If your garage door is not built to withstand high winds, it can easily blow off during a hurricane. The high winds will then make their way into your home, causing so much pressure to build up within the structure that the roof eventually flies off.
To prevent this catastrophic damage, it’s recommended that you install garage doors that are designed to withstand winds of up to 130 mph.
6. Bolt the House to the Foundation
Some earthquakes are so strong that they can separate home from its foundation, causing thousands of dollars in damage. If you’re in an area that experiences earthquakes, keep your home in place by bolting it to the foundation.
You can hire home restoration experts to bolt the sill plate of your home to the foundation with anchor bolts, which are strong enough to withstand an earthquake’s tremors.
7. Install Backflow Valves
Floodwaters can push the sewage in sewer lines back up through the drain pipes and into your home. Sewage is a major health hazard, and it can also cause a great deal of damage to your property. Don’t wait for this to happen to you – install backflow valves that block sewage from flowing backward into your home.
8. Learn How to Turn Off Utilities
It’s imperative to turn off your utilities during a tornado to prevent fires, flooding, and gas leaks, but many people aren’t sure how to do it. It’s best to learn how to shut off the gas, electric, and water in your home before a tornado or another natural disaster strikes so you are ready to act quickly if necessary.
9. Keep Storm Drains Clean
Excess rain and groundwater are supposed to drain through the storm drains, which are located throughout residential communities. However, the water will not have anywhere to go if the storm drains are clogged with debris.
If you live in an area that is often hit by tropical storms or hurricanes, make sure the storm drains in your community are cleaned regularly to prevent flood damage. You can even contact the professional flood restoration company in your area.
10. Move Indoor Appliances Above the Flood Level
Indoor appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, washers, and dryers should be placed at least one foot above your property’s flood level, so they stay dry at all times. A furnace, for example, that is left in floodwaters could catch fire or explode, which can lead to catastrophic damage. Don’t take this chance- move your appliances above the flood level.
11. Hang Heat-Resistant Curtains
The heat from a nearby wildfire can creep into your home through the windows. If it’s hot enough, this heat can actually start a fire within your home. For this reason, homes in wildfire-prone areas should have heat-resistant curtains to prevent the heat from entering your home.
12. Use Fire-Resistant Building Materials
Consider rebuilding portions of your home with fire-resistant materials to prevent wildfire damage. Roofing materials such as clay tiles, metal tiles, and stone are highly resistant to fire. You can also replace your existing window frames with steel frames. These upgrades can keep your house safe when it is surrounded by wildfire.
13. Keep the Gutters Clean
If your gutters are clogged, hurricane rainwater will start to accumulate on your roof or around the foundation. During a heavy storm, enough water will eventually accumulate to leak through your roof or foundation and cause major damage. The simple solution to this problem is keeping the gutters clean- especially during hurricane season. In case, the water has already ruined it, immediately repair the foundation cracks.
14. Reinforce Windows and Doors
Windows and doors need reinforcement in order to withstand hurricane-strength winds. A temporary solution is to board up the windows and doors with plywood whenever a hurricane is headed your way. However, you can also permanently fix this problem by installing reinforced doors and windows that are designed to withstand hurricane-strength winds.
15. Repair Loose, Missing, or Damaged Roofing
Hurricane and tornado-strength winds can rip loose, missing, or damaged shingles from your roof, which can lead to leaks throughout the ceiling. Have your roof inspected from a professional company prior to storm season so you can make the necessary repairs before it’s too late.
Here are a Few More Things to do During Various Disasters:
Cyclones & Storms:
It is worth taking preventative measures to protect your home from cyclones and storms:
- Regularly check your gutters and roof to ensure they are in good working order, and there are no leaks.
- Keep trees and other plants away from the house, especially the windows and the roof.
- Store any unused items outside in a secure spot.
- If your property is in a cyclone-prone area, it may be beneficial to install permanent shutters to glass doors and windows.
Floods can be extremely dangerous as floodwaters can rise very quickly. By being prepared, you can keep your family safe during a flood and reduce the damage to your property.
- Keep valuable objects such as televisions off the floor
- Have tiled floors instead of carpets
- Purchase a waterproof lockbox to keep important documents in.
- Regularly check all windows and doors close securely to help stop water coming in.
- Have a map of your home with the electrical switchboard, gas tanks, and water supply location marked out – this will save valuable time if a flood is threatening your home.
In case of any damage, you should always call a flood damage restoration company to safeguard your home against any damage.
There are many preemptive steps you can take around the home to help you become bushfire ready.
- Buy a fire extinguisher and fire blanket and keep in an easy to reach the place.
- Clean your gutters and downpipes frequently.
- Maintain your garden. This includes keeping the grass short, keep plants and trees well-trimmed and tidy up leaves and rubbish.
- Ensure you have a garden hose connected outside
- Install fire-resistant screens on windows and doors
- Keep flammable materials away from your house (such as certain cleaning liquids and gas bottles)
You can always take help from a professional fire damage restoration company.
How to Stay Safe During a Natural Disaster?
If your area or locality is prone to natural disasters, it’s best to prepare yourself ahead of time. Using these safety tips for natural disaster recovery can make a huge difference in an emergency:
- Stay Informed: Tune in to local authorities for information about evacuations and safety tips.
- Have a Plan for Evacuation: Know where you will go during a natural disaster and how you will get there.
- Keep Emergency Kits on Hand: Stock kits with flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, and essential identification information.
- Avoid Unnecessary Risks: Do not leave your home unless instructed to do so.
- Go to the Safest Area in your Home: During a flood, go to a higher floor. If a tornado is in the area, go to a basement or inner room on the bottom floor of your home.
How to Keep Safe During a Natural Disaster (Evacuation Tips from FEMA)?
Ultimately, your safety is paramount. When a situation is beyond your control, you may need to evacuate. In any natural disaster situation, FEMA recommends practicing the “Five Ps of Evacuation”
- People: First, move people and pets or other animals to safety.
- Prescriptions: Make sure you take any necessary prescriptions, including hearing aids, eyeglasses, or asthma medication.
- Papers: Grab any important documents, including identification information.
- Personal Needs: Take items you might need for a person’s needs such as food, water, clothing, or emergency supplies.
- Priceless Items: Bring valuables, photos, mementos, heirlooms, or anything that is irreplaceable.
Mother Nature is an unpredictable force. While you can’t always avoid the potential for danger due to natural disasters, you can take preventative measures to avoid injuries, achieve safety at home, and reduce the amount of damage to your property and your family.
Although you cannot stop a natural disaster from occurring, these are some of the ways to protect your home from certain types of damage. If you need natural disaster recovery, you can always call the experts near your area.
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