Learning Center

Preparation: The Key to Being Ready for a Natural Disaster

house in peril

Every region of the United States faces at least one type of natural disaster, and most regions face multiple hazards.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety offers the following tips to help you prepare for the most likely disasters in your area.

Note: The organization's home page also includes a tool to identify the greatest risks for your ZIP code.

Flooding - Water Intrusion in Basements

  • Use a high-quality urethane-based caulk to seal cracks in the exterior walls of your building.
  • Apply internal sealant to the interior of basement walls.
  • Remove soil from around the foundation and install a waterproof membrane.

High Winds and Tornadoes

  • Limit or remove yard objects to prevent them from becoming projectiles.
  • Install a garage door bracing system.
  • Brace roof gable ends.
  • When re-roofing, take additional measures to meet high-wind guidelines.
  • Install window/door shutters.

Severe Winter Weather

  • Remove snow from window wells and against all walls.
  • Buy a snow rake so you can safely remove snow from the roof if it gets too deep.
  • Wrap exposed pipes and hose bibs with insulation.
  • Trim tree branches that extend over your roof and remove dead or diseased trees.


  • Keep your garage clean so you can store your car in it when the weather turns nasty.
  • Install storm windows to protect windows and sills.
  • Install a high-impact rated roof cover (class 3 or 4).


  • Relocate combustible items at least 30 feet from your home.
  • Choose non-combustible mulch, such as rock and gravel.
  • In your chimney, install a spark arrestor made from welded wire or woven wire mesh with half-inch openings.


  • Securely anchor bookcases to walls.
  • Anchor water heaters and install flexible connectors.
  • Brace your chimney.
  • Brace walls that have large openings, such as those with garage doors.

Disclaimer: These recommendations were developed using generally accepted safety standards. Compliance with these recommendations is not a guarantee that you will be in conformance with any building code, federal, state or local regulation regarding safety or fire. Compliance with these recommendations does not ensure the absolute safety of your occupation, business or residence. It is the property owner's duty to warn any tenants or occupants of the property of any safety hazards that may exist.

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