If it feels like summer storms and winter blizzards are getting more intense every year, it’s not all in your head. Climate change has made these weather systems stronger and more dangerous, and that trend is likely to continue. Heatwaves, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters will become more common, and that means you need to take steps now to prepare your home.
What do you need to do to prepare your home for inclement weather? What tools exist now to help you get everything ready?
Sometimes, when it comes to preparing your home for bad weather, your best resource is going to be the professional meteorologists who are looking out for you. This might mean keeping a weather alert radio in your home. Modern technology means we can track inclement weather on our phones. Customized alerts based on GPS locations can potentially save lives, especially for fast-moving weather events like tornadoes or wildfires.
Install apps like those to keep their citizens alert to changing severe weather patterns.
Understand Your Local Climate
We normally associate tornadoes with the midwestern United States, a region colloquially known as Tornado Alley, but these monstrous wind storms aren’t limited to these areas.
Places to see tornado warnings during tornado season, which generally falls between April and July. Our weather patterns are changing, thanks to climate change, and it’s important to pay attention.
Take the time to learn and understand your local climate. You don’t need a degree in meteorology — just the will to look out your window and observe the weather patterns as the seasons change. Understanding the ins and outs of your local climate can help you see patterns and even predict when severe weather might send you running for the hills.
Clean Things Up
With tornadoes, hurricanes, and other events that cause high winds, debris in and around your home are going to create a hazard. The most severe tornadoes and hurricanes have been known to generate winds in excess of 200 miles per hour.
That’s fast enough to pick up anything that hasn’t been nailed down — patio furniture, hanging plants, fallen tree limbs, or even cars, for example — and turn it into a missile.
While you can’t control how your neighbors care for their spaces, take the time to clean up anything around your home that could potentially become flying debris. Remove branches hanging over your home, and cut back any dead ones that could break off in a storm. Secure patio furniture or move it indoors.
If you have an in-ground pool, you could also sink your furniture to the bottom of the pool to keep it from blowing away. The goal here is to remove anything that might start flying.
Schedule a Roof Inspection
You often hear horror stories of homes getting their roofs ripped off by high winds, but it’s a lot more common than you might think. A well-maintained roof can easily last 20 to 25 years, but the older it gets, the easier it is for high winds to work their way under the shingles and start tearing things free.
Before storm season starts, schedule a roof inspection. You may be able to spot loose or missing shingles from the ground, but sometimes, it’s better to get an extra pair of eyes on the problem, especially if those eyes have years of experience and will be able to spot indicators you might have missed.
Protect Vulnerable Areas
Those enormous windows in your living room look amazing and let in tons of natural light, but they’re only a good design idea on sunny days. There are some parts of your home that will always be more vulnerable to damage than others. The important thing is to protect those spaces to ensure they don’t take damage during a storm.
Start by boarding up your windows and stocking up on sandbags or other flood stoppers if you’re in a flood-prone area.
It’s important to do whatever you can to protect your space, especially if you’ve got a mortgage. If your home gets destroyed or seriously damaged by inclement weather, you’re still responsible for making those mortgage payments even if you can’t live there. Homeowners insurance can help you rebuild, as can funds from disaster relief agencies like FEMA that spring into action after a severe storm.
But you’ll still find yourself paying for a place you can’t live. Keeping it safe in the first place just makes more logical sense.
Build an Emergency Kit
If a storm has started knocking out power and tearing off local roofs, you’re not going to be able to make a trip to the local market for food. Take the time to build up an emergency kit so you’ll have everything you need until the storm dies down. Make sure you have three days’ worth of food and water for everyone in your home — including pets — as well as any medicines, first aid supplies, and important papers you might need close at hand.
Make sure you grab some cash as well before everything starts to shut down. If a storm knocks out power, as stores start to open back up, they will likely be cash-only. You can’t exactly run a credit card if the power is out or the internet is down. Keep your emergency kit stocked throughout the storm season.
Plan for Every Eventuality
When a storm strikes, you’re going to have two options — hunker down and shelter in place or evacuate. It’s important to understand the logistics of both, because your plan can change at a moment’s notice.
If you normally hunker down and ride out the storm, but an abnormally high storm surge is threatening to cover your home in 12 feet of water, you’ll need to be ready and able to pack up and go.
Conversely, if you normally evacuate but your route is blocked and it’s safe to stay home, you need to have everything you need to spend a few days at home.
The key here is to plan for any and every eventuality. You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you — especially now as storm systems continue to get more powerful every year — so having a plan for every eventuality means nothing will be able to surprise you.
Be Ready for Anything
Climate change means storms are going to continue to get stronger as the planet warms. You need to be ready for anything, and these tips will help you do that.
by: Rose Morrison
Rose is the managing editor of Renovated and a real estate industry writer.