Severe weather is nothing to sneeze at. The Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana are currently bracing for Harvey, which at press time has been designated a Category 3 hurricane. Most of us know to stock up on water, food, batteries, and the like in advance. So, we rounded up some more tips and precautions you can do to stay safe and protect your home during natural disasters.
Storms can increase or decrease in intensity, so it’s best to continue to track them. Outside of radio or TV news, Stormpulse or government departments like NOAA and the National Weather Service are good places to stay up to date on the latest reports. Also check city and state alerts for evacuation notifications.
Prepare the outside of your home.
For those with outdoor space, that means moving patio furniture, trash cans, grills, toys, potted plants and the like inside if possible. Check nearby trees for dead or loose branches that could fall off during winds. If you have gutters that you’re responsible for, make sure they’re clear, as they can cause drainage issues and possible flooding during periods of heavy rain, according to the National Association of Home Builders. While you’re up there, make sure your roof is secured and sealed.
Watch those windows and doors.
If your doors have multiple locking mechanisms, use them all to prevent them from flying open. As for windows, make sure they are also locked, and that storm shutters or 5/8-inch boards are secured on the outside. Unfortunately, using masking tape on them doesn’t do anything, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The safest place to be during severe weather is inside and away from windows, skylights and glass doors. An interior room, a closet or bathroom on lower levels are best, according to the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography.
Pay extra attention to the garage.
If you happen to have a garage, the door might be extra susceptible to high winds. Check if your garage has a wind or pressure rating, and if you have time, you can choose to reinforce it with a brace kit, as noted by FloridaDisaster.org. If severe weather is already on the way, they also mention that you can use your car as an additional brace.
Secure your car.
If you have a car, make sure you have a full tank of gas, that the wipers are new, the tire pressure is good, and the windows are sealed, says Consumer Reports. Also have an emergency go bag on hand (here’s what Ready.gov recommends you have) as well as phone chargers, maps, and insurance paperwork. If you rely on street parking, check that it’s not parked under any trees or in any particular areas prone to flooding.
If flooding is possible, consider these measures.
First, if you don’t know your flood risk, check with FEMA. Bankrate compiled a lot of options to prepare in advance of flooding, but if waters are rising already, here’s what you can do: Move as many items as possible (including electronics and important documents) to a higher floor—or at least raise them off the ground floor; elevate appliances on concrete blocks; and turn off electricity to affected areas from the breaker panel. FEMA also has an extensive guide on what to do before, during, and after a flood.
Don’t forget about pets.
Make sure all pets are inside during severe weather. If you have to evacuate, know which hotels are pet friendly, recommends Weather.com. Most Red Cross disaster shelters cannot house pets, so see if there are friends or family in unaffected areas that can take them. Check that their vaccines and tags are up to date, and consider microchipping if they are not already.
Readers, do you have other tips for staying safe in severe weather? Share in the comments.