by Kimberly Blackford
Homeowners like to think of their houses as perfectly safe. However, from coast to coast, natural disasters of varying degrees threaten cozy havens with hardly a moment's notice.
It is incredibly important to plan for the possibility of such a threat when building any home. Peace of mind is certainly worth a little extra time and effort.
Keep this tips and tricks in mind as you storm-ready your home:
- Museum wax and various grades of putty are ideal for anchoring fragile objects, such as china in a cabinet, preventing everyday items from becoming projectiles in natural disasters.
- L-brackets should be used to secure large furniture to walls. Large bookcases, media centers, refrigerators, and ovens can quickly become falling hazards if subjected to earthquake. Anchoring large furniture is also generally a good idea for families with small children who like to climb and explore.
- Simple latches on cabinet doors deter kids from dangerous items while keeping bits and pieces from getting tossed around as debris.
- Doors and windows should be weather stripped (which will also help save on utilities) to prevent possible water seepage.
- Storm shutters and storm doors are excellent for protecting windows and entryways. Plywood can also be used to board windows and doors in emergency situations, however, this option will be last minute and possibly time-consuming.
- Impact resistant windows go a long way in avoiding costly damages. Even if broken, pieces will not pose more danger like shards of typical glass.
- Check that your garage door is hurricane rated. The large surface is easily damaged in high winds if not properly assessed for your region.
- Replace missing roof shingles immediately. A roof lacking in quality is easily torn apart with high winds, making it more likely other parts of the will be exposed to damage.
- Fix any known hazards immediately. Cracks, damaged wiring, and leaks are weak spots easily taken advantage of by a severe storm.
- Fire extinguishers in 2 pound or 5 pound sizes should be placed strategically for easy and immediate accessibility if needed.
- Fire detectors should be plentiful throughout the home, with working batteries installed at all times. Check the batteries annually and change as needed.
- Fireplace screens and a spark arrestor in the chimney are great tools for enjoying a nice fire without fear of the hazards it may pose.
In addition to these measures throughout the home, it is important that family members are also prepared to react in an emergency situation. All family members should be able to locate and turn off gas, electrical, and water utilities. Each family member should also be made aware of the designated "safe spots" within the home. This may be the basement in case of tornado or a built-in safe room for any threatening storm. Safe spots outside the home include meeting places should a fire breakout and family members find themselves separated. Review and repetition of these safe spots is important.
Emergency contact numbers should be posted by all phones and should include police, fire, poison control, and various family doctors and contacts. It is also vital to check homeowners' insurance policies, keeping in mind that flood and earthquake insurance is often supplemental and must be set up separately. Inventory of all possessions should be taken and a copy should be kept with your policy outside the home.
It may cross your mind at some point that your home is built up to code and that should be good enough. It is undeniably important for homes to follow code, but it is even more important to realize that your home is not indestructible. Take the time to follow these extra steps to ensure your home truly is as safe as possible.
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