Once a storm hits, the damage can be irreversible. With a storm comes panic, and to avoid panic, the most you can do is try to prepare in the best way possible.
Making your property storm-ready can significantly reduce the chaos left in the aftermath. The following are seven preventative steps you can take to help protect your family, pets and home during storm season.
1. Launch a disaster plan
Having an emergency plan in place saves lives. A secure plan should be developed in every home, and every household member should know it. Performing routine tests can help you to feel more confident and prepared for when the time comes.
There should be secure knowledge of where the exits are, meeting points, the nearest shelter, evacuation points and where the safest room in the house is.
Keep emergency phone numbers located around the house, in your phone, and with the emergency kit.
2. Build an emergency kit
It is common practice for houses located in storm areas to store an emergency kit. Bottled water, canned food, medication and a first aid kit are among some of the essential items that will keep you going whether you need to evacuate, or remain in the property. Store enough food and water to keep you healthy until help arrives, or until you can leave the property safely.
Other useful items include a flashlight, extra batteries, a fire extinguisher, and important documents such as passports and other identity information.
3. Plan for pets
Knowing what to do with pets when a storm hits is vital to keeping them safe. Dogs and cats should be microchipped and have collars containing up to date contact information in case they become lost from their owners.
As well as the emergency kit for the family, an animal emergency kit is important to have. This should include a harness or leash, pet food and water.
Planning a safe destination for your pets in advance will ensure their safety. There are many options available, including some evacuation centres, motels and kennels. The homes of friends and family located away from the storm are a good option.
4. Secure furniture
Outdoor furniture such as sunbeds, loungers and sheds are at risk of being blown around by strong winds during a storm. Blown objects can cause damage to properties and seriously harm people. Even children’s toys can do serious damage if carried by violent winds.
Batten down and secure any furniture, toys or other loose objects outside in preparation. Sheds tend to have a wind rating sticker, which will give you a good idea of its ability to handle storms.
Using a cover over your swimming pool will protect it from debris and stop any electrical items from being blown into the water, causing danger of electrocution.
5. Know where the mains are
In emergency situations, it may be vital that you know how to switch off the mains, whether electrics, gas or water. If your home is at risk of flooding, switching off the power supply (only if it is safe to do so) will stop electricity and water from mixing. Do not attempt to switch it off if water has already contaminated the electrics or if you are standing in water.
If there is time before a storm hits, turn off the mains before evacuating your home.
6. Perform annual roof checks
It might be the last thing on your mind, but inspecting your roof each year is a good way to spot any damage and prevent rain from getting into your home. Cracks, gaps and loose tiles are all entry points for rain, and you don’t want to find out about it during a storm.
7. Trim your trees
Trees pose one of many hazards during a violent storm. Strong winds can break branches, sending them hurtling towards your property. Maintaining your trees and keeping overhanging or loose branches trimmed can help to secure the tree, and prevent an easy target for strong winds.
Storms are out of our control. It’s truly impossible to prevent natural disasters, but it is possible to plan and make ourselves as prepared as possible. In doing so, our loved ones, animals and homes have a better chance of remaining safe during storm season.