We are already hearing about severe storms and even tornadoes occurring in the southern states, and at any time, those spring storms could shift in our direction. Now is a good time to get your home ready and to gather emergency supplies in a safe place. If the worst happens—whether severe thunderstorms, flooding caused by extreme rains and snow melt, or a tornado—you’ll be glad you took the time to prepare.
Prepare the Outside of Your Home
Make these checks to protect the outside of your home from damage during storms:
- Trim branches from trees that may fall on your home; if you have a dead tree close by, get rid of it entirely.
- Clean out eaves so they will be able to keep up with heavy water flow during heavy rains.
- When there are storm warnings, put away patio furniture and any other items that may become a flying hazard if strong winds blow in.
- Check the outside of your home for any areas where water might seep into your house, such as cracks around the foundation and roof damage.
Prepare Indoor Areas of Your Home
Equally important to protecting the outside of your home is what happens inside. Make sure you have a plan in place to stay safe inside:
- Check your sump pump to be sure it’s operating correctly. If you don’t have a battery backup for your sump, consider adding one now. Otherwise, if power loss turns off your sump during heavy rains, you may be left with a huge mess.
- If you don’t have a standby generator, consider purchasing one to keep a few basic home appliances—or maybe your sump pump—running if the power is off for a while. Make sure it’s set up correctly outside and check to be sure it’s working before you need it.
- If you don’t have insurance coverage for sewage backups, check into it, especially if you have a finished basement.
- If a bad storm is predicted, make sure you have a water supply to last a couple of days. Fill the tub for use in toilet flushing and cleanup, and fill bottles and pitchers for drinking and cooking.
- Anytime a thunderstorm is predicted, unplug sensitive electronics: computer equipment, TVs and similar items. It also helps to have surge protectors but recognize that a surge protector won’t protect against a direct lightning strike.
- Keep cell phones fully charged and keep a battery pack or two charged as backup, too. An "old-fashioned" connected landline phone is also a bonus, as it will work even if your electricity falters.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
In your basement or other safe place where your family can gather during bad storms, keep a stash of supplies handy:
- Bottled water and non-perishable foods such as canned and boxed staples that don’t require cooking (and a can opener if the cans aren’t pull-top).
- Battery-operated radio, flashlights and extra batteries for both.
- Cash in case ATMs and banks are closed for a while.
- First-aid kit.
- A week’s supply of prescription medicines.
- Sleeping bags or blankets.
- Change of clothing for each family member.
Unfortunately, storing these items in the basement is the best option in case of a tornado, but can be the worst area if flooding is the disaster facing you. Make sure you can access and grab items to transfer to another location, depending on where you will be the safest.
Prepare to-go Bags
In case of flooding or a tornado strike, you may need to leave your home quickly. Some of the above emergency kit items (prescriptions, cash, clothing change) will be essential, but also have immediate access to a few more items:
- Insurance papers, driver’s licenses, any other important documents that you don’t want destroyed in a flood or lightning-induced fire.
- A full tank of gas.
- Phone charger in the car.