Here are some practical ways to safeguard your home from disasters.
Written by Northwest Mortgage
Published on Thu, Oct 13, 2022, Last Updated on Thu, Oct 13, 2022
October 13 is International Day for Disaster Reduction - so in that vein, we want to talk about a few ways you can protect your home from a few kinds of disasters.
The very first step towards safeguarding your home from natural disasters is to purchase homeowner’s insurance. Homeowner’s insurance typically covers most natural disasters - there are few common exceptions, however: floods and earthquakes. Check your specific insurance policy to see what is and isn’t covered.
So if your home is brought low by an 8.5 shake or you find your basement flooded to the knees after a pounding rain and you don’t have specialized insurance… you’re at a real risk of having to pay for those damages out-of-pocket. But we at Northwest Mortgage want to help you prevent that! We know that your home is an essential wealth-building tool that can last for generations and becomes part of a legacy for you and your family.
Since Northwest Mortgage is based in the Midwest USA, we’ll be focusing on disasters that are more likely to occur in this area. The three we’ll talk about are house fires, tornadoes, and flash floods.
House fires happen surprisingly often - according to Bankrate, National Fire Protection Association estimates that over 350,000 house fires occur each year in the USA. And while there’s very little you can do to completely fireproof your home, there are plenty of fire safety measures to keep in mind.
There’s the obvious ones: don’t leave a burning candle unattended, don’t leave appliances on (the stove, oven, radiators, etc.) when you’re not in the house, clean out your dryer’s lint trap every time, keep flammable materials and children away from open flames, etc.
Here are a few maintenance tips to keep your home safe from fires:
- Perform regular maintenance on your fire alarms. Make sure they have batteries and do checks if needed. Replace them in accordance with manufacturer instructions.
- Have a professional clean out your vents and dryer ducts.
- Have an evacuation plan for you and your family. Know what you’ll grab, which door you’ll head for, and where you’ll all go afterwards in the event of a fire. After that, drill your plan!
See a full list of fireproofing behaviors, broken down by room, here.
Be aware, however! If the cause of the house fire is found to be related to a lack of maintenance, then homeowner’s insurance will NOT cover the damages.
It’s true that there isn’t much you can do to divert a tornado away from your house. But there are a few things you can do to help your house resist the severe winds during a tornado, according to Allan Moses in an article for Useline.com:
- Reinforce your garage door with wood or metal panels. This is the largest, most wind-vulnerable piece on your house. If loosened or caught in the wind, it can cause enormous damage. So reinforcing it to withstand winds is a good bet for tornadoes.
- Focus on proofing a single interior room with no windows, if you can. You can even pay to have a contractor build a tornado-proof room inside your existing house, if you have the funds. This will be the safest room for your family and most essential belongings. Speaking of belongings…
- Secure your belongings! Ensure you can access important documents and valuables in a single, secured location. If you need to evacuate to another shelter, you can easily open up the safe and take these things with you.
Want more tornado-proofing information for inside and outside your home? Wawanesa Insurance in Canada has a comprehensive tornado-proofing checklist!
First step to protecting your home from flash flooding: get yourself some flood insurance. This is a good investment, especially in the Midwest, because floods are one of the most common natural disasters in this area.
Second step, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is to find the base flooding elevation (BFE) for your home, which is “how high the water is expected to rise during flooding in high risk areas.” You can find out your BFE from your local floodplain manager, who you can find by calling 1-877-336-627.
Once you know your BFE, you can take all kinds of precautions, such as elevating your appliances and utilities above the BFE line, tiling any flooring below the BFE line, storing valuables above it, etc. You can find the full list of precautions in the FEMA pamphlet here.
Talk to your local insurance provider to see what additional insurances might be needed to keep your home safe, wherever you are and from whatever Mother Nature might throw at you.
Have questions about how to safeguard your home? Contact us today!