How to Prepare Your Home for a Storm
The tulips are flowering and the weather’s warming up. Those are sure signs that spring is beginning to bloom — which means spring weather is here, too. Spring can bring some strong storms your way. But, with a little storm preparation, you’ll be ready to protect your home against Mother Nature. Here are some spring weather safety tips to help you get ready for spring storms.
How Do You Prepare for a Storm?
It’s easy to forget how fierce spring storms can be during the relative calm of cold winter afternoon. But on those lazy winter days, you’ve likely got the time to make preparations for upcoming foul weather. Take a look at our tips on how to ready your home — and your homeowners coverage — for whatever Mother Nature brings.
Sign up for weather text alerts
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sends text messages to keep you updated emergency situations. But long before anything gets that severe, your local government, weather channel, radio stations and power companies have similar services that let you know what’s happening in your region. The more information you get, the easier it is to plan and prepare.
You can also download the FEMA app to your smartphone, which gets you real-time National Weather Service alerts. You’ll also have access important emergency safety tips for over 20 types of disasters.
Evaluate the exterior
Your home is designed to shelter you from the weather. To keep it in tip-top condition, do regular walk-arounds and inspect for issues. Keep an eye out for the following things:
- Loose shingles that look rippled or ones that have already fallen to the ground
- Check the siding to see if it’s firmly in place
- Tree branches extending over your house or driveway that could fall in a storm
- All unattached structures like sheds or gazeboes should be bolted securely to their foundation
- Note loose patio furniture and décor that should be secured or pulled inside when a storm comes
- Gutters should be firmly attached, and all downspouts need to be in place
- If you have shutters, make sure they’re secure
- Check to see if your fence needs repair
Clean gutters and downspouts
Getting your gutters cleaned should be part of your spring and fall home maintenance routine. This proactive habit keeps water run-off away from your home and helps prevent flooding. It also gives you the opportunity to inspect your rain gutters for leaks and sagging. When you‘re ready to tackle the task, keep the following in mind:
- Obey all ladder safety precautions and have a spotter there to help
- Wear gloves and use a gardening trowel to pull out debris
- Drape a tarp on the ground or use a bucket for easy clean-up
- Use your hose to force water through downspouts to make sure they’re clean
- Hire a professional gutter-cleaning contractor if you’re not up to the task
Check your sump pump
As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” And with all that rain, your risk of flooding increases. If you have a sump pump, it’s a great idea to run through an annual sump pump maintenance list.
You’ll want to clear all debris so it doesn’t impede function and ensure your back-up is in working order. With added sump pump failure and water backup coverage, you’ll have better protection that can bring real peace of mind when the rain starts to fall.
Tend to leaks
If you’ve had leaks in the past, it’s best to take care of them now — before there’s more damage. It’s also worth taking a look at the foundation in your basement and along exterior walls to see if there are signs of past leaks that went unnoticed.
Review your storm safety plans
Get together with your family and go over what to do if there’s a big storm. Things to consider for your storm safety plan:
- Identify the safest place to shelter in your home for each type of storm
- Create a social network communication plan for times when you’re not together
- Learn the routes in case there’s an evacuation
- Decide how your pets will be included in the safety plan
- If you’re bringing supplies into the safe area, predetermine who grabs what
Check your emergency kits
Your storm survival kit should be refreshed once or twice a year, just to make sure nothing has expired. You might find that your household’s needs have changed, so a little updating could be required. If you’re making your kit for the first time, remember it should be customized to suit your family’s needs, but the following items are a great starting point:
- Two gallons of water per person
- A three-day supply of non-perishable food for the family and pets
- A flashlight and batteries
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio or a NOAA weather radio
- First aid kit
- Garbage bags
- A few books and games keep everyone occupied and entertained
- Two months’ worth of prescription medications, if possible
Prepare for a power outage
Are you ready for the electricity to go out? Take these steps so you’re prepared if your power goes out for an extended period of time:
Address medical concerns that rely on a consistent power supply:
- Talk to your doctor about what to do during a power outage
- Discuss your concerns with your power company so they can put you on their priority list
Manage your electricity needs:
- Fire up your generator and be sure it’s in good working order
- Plug all your electronics in to surge protectors just in case there’s surge while power is being restored
- Charge your phones and any other electronic devices
- Fill the car and generator gas cans with fuel, and then swing by the store to grab some non-perishable foods
Make a home inventory
If you ever have to make a sump pump and water backup claim, having a home inventory will help get you back on your feet more quickly. Begin your home inventory by taking a video of your home and your most valuable possessions. Be sure to include model and serial numbers.
Get the Coverage Your Home Needs
Mother Nature is unpredictable, but you can still prepare for the unexpected. Talk to your American Family Insurance agent to review your homeowners insurance and help you get the storm protection to keep you and your family safe all year long.