Getting Your Home Ready for a Disaster

Blog posted On August 24, 2023

No matter where you live, you likely face some sort of natural threat like tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, snowstorms, flooding, or heatwaves. Certain areas are more prone to natural disasters than others, and if you live in one of these areas, it’s essential to have an emergency plan. Keep these points in mind as you prepare your home and family for the unexpected.

Building an Emergency Kit

An emergency kit is your first line of defense during a disaster. It's a collection of essential items that can sustain you and your family until help arrives. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has compiled list of recommended items for your emergency kit. Here are a few items from that list that you’ll want to consider adding to your kit (if you haven’t already):

  1. Basic Supplies: Include non-perishable food items, clean drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day for three days), a manual can opener, and disposable plates and utensils. Additionally, pack a flashlight with extra batteries, a multi-tool, a whistle, and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio to stay informed.
  2. Medications and First Aid: Keep a supply of prescription medications, as well as a basic first aid kit that includes adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers and scissors.
  3. Personal Documents: Store copies of important documents such as identification, insurance policies, medical records, and proof of address in a waterproof container.
  4. Clothing and Bedding: Pack a change of clothing for each family member and blankets to stay warm. Consider including sturdy shoes, rain gear, and personal hygiene items.
  5. Cash: Keep a bit of cash in small denominations, as ATMs and card readers might not be operational during disasters.

Prepare Your Home

Whether you live in a condo, single family home, or a townhome, there are things you can do to enhance your home's resilience to various challenges.

Firstly, it makes sense to work on the everyday things that can help you better manage a possible emergency. If you don’t already have them, be sure to install smoke detectors strategically throughout your home and remember to replace their batteries annually. You’ll also want to equip your living space with fire extinguishers. Ensure that everyone in your household is educated on how to use them.

Another change you can implement before an emergency is securing heavy furniture and objects. If an earthquake or storms strikes, the last thing you want is to have these bulky items moving towards you at high speeds. Utilize brackets or straps to fasten them to the wall.

Along the same lines, you want to reinforcing windows and doors if you believe a natural disaster may be heading your way. Board up windows with plywood and strengthen doors with deadbolt locks.

Cutting off utilities is another important step in preparing for an emergency, so you’ll want to shut off your gas, water, and electricity. In an emergency, this can prevent additional damage. After an emergency, turning off these services can help you avoid additional hazards. 

Creating a Family Emergency Plan

A well-executed emergency plan can make significant difference during a disaster. Here are a few tips on how to create an effective family emergency plan:

  1. Communication Strategy: Designate an out-of-town contact person who can act as a central point of communication. Make sure every family member has the contact's number available.
  2. Meeting Points: Identify safe meeting places both inside and outside your home. Ensure that every family member knows where to gather in case you need to evacuate.
  3. Evacuation Routes: Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes in your area. Plan multiple routes and have maps ready in your emergency kits.
  4. Pet and Livestock Plans: If you have pets or livestock, include them in your emergency plan. Have food, water, carriers, and leashes ready for them.
  5. Practice Drills: Though it may sound extreme, conducting annually emergency drills with your family will ensure everyone knows what to do.

Returning to normal

In the wake of a natural disaster such as a wildfire, a home renovation can provide a lifeline for homeowners looking to rebuild and restore their property.

From repairing damaged roofs and walls to replacing windows and restoring electrical systems, these loans offer a comprehensive solution to restoring a home's functionality and comfort. In fact, victims of natural disasters may be eligible for direct federal aid from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Counter to what the name may suggest, the SBA offers disaster-related loans to individuals and families at favorable interest rates so they can afford to replace or repair their primary residences.

Disasters may be unavoidable, but with proactive preparation, you can significantly reduce their impact on your home and family.


Sources: FEMA, Disaster Loan Assistance