Plan ahead to guard against seasonal squalls.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding—in recent years we’ve seen how merciless Mother Nature can be in spring and summer. With tornadoes already hitting the southern states, now is the time to plan ahead. Although you can’t dampen the destructive power of storms that blow through different regions, there are some common-sense ways to protect your home and family.
Prepare your outdoor living space
Create a dedicated space—in a garage or heavy-duty shed—to store lawn furniture and other outdoor items that could blow away during high winds. Trim back all plants and branches before winter and check again in early spring that all dead, damaged or diseased limbs have been removed.
Prepare your house
- Consider installing permanent storm shutters to cover windows and glass doors—particularly in coastal homes vulnerable to hurricane winds. Shutters can be closed quickly and provide the safest protection, and you won’t spend hours taping glass and nailing plywood.
- Install a whole-house surge suppressor device to protect electronic equipment and appliances from direct lightning strikes or nearby ground strikes.
- Install a whole-house lightning protection system to divert electrical charges from rods installed along the roof through heavy duty cables, right into the ground.
- For those in flash flooding-vulnerable areas, make sure drainage systems are clear of debris, and ensure sump pumps are working properly.
Prepare your family
Storms can upset propane fuel tanks. The Propane Education & Research Council offers the following advice:
- Educate your family on how to recognize the smell of leaking propane tanks (it has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray or a dead animal).
- Know how and where to turn off the propane, including your outdoor tank and indoor appliances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates making a family evacuation plan and putting together a disaster preparedness kit. The CDC recommends the following items:
- A battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries for both.
- An emergency evacuation plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each room.
- A list of important personal information, including:
- Telephone numbers of neighbors, family and friends
- Insurance and property information
- Telephone numbers of utility companies
- Medical information
- A first-aid kit, including:
- Prescription medication
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Antibiotic ointment
- Over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin
- Bandages and dressings for injuries
- A 3- to 5-day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food.
- Personal hygiene items.
- Blankets or sleeping bags.
- An emergency kit in your car.