Protect Your Home and Family: Severe Weather Guide
It’s never too early to prepare your family and your home for hurricanes, severe weather or natural disasters. Use this “How-To” guide to help you protect your property and loved ones in advance of an emergency.
Have a Plan
It is also important to create an essential phone numbers list and store in a safe, readily available place. Create your own here.
Severe Weather: Hurricane
In the case of a Hurricane:
- Listen to radio or watch TV for weather updates.
- Locate Storm Readiness Kit. Click here to learn what to include and how to prepare your own.
- Gas up your vehicle, in case of an evacuation notice.
- Fill gas containers for generator. Store in a safe place. Learn more about emergency generators here.
- Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools, and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside. Learn how to prepare your yard here.
- Clear your yard of debris.
- Review evacuation plans.
- Install storm protection devices such as shutters. Brace entry doors and garage doors.
- Anchor your boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Learn how here.
For more in-depth information regarding what to do in the case of a hurricane click here.
Severe Weather: Flood
In the case of a flood:
- Locate Storm Readiness Kit. Plan yours here.
- Fill sinks, tubs and buckets with water. This water can be used for hygiene.
- If you have a well, seal it to keep out silt and debris.
- Shut off electricity at your main panel, if the floor beneath the panel is dry.
- Attach rigid foam insulation or plastic sheeting around the outside first floor walls. Water will get in, but most of the silt will be kept out.
- Be ready to leave on short notice if evacuation is required.
If the notice to evacuate is given learn more here.
Severe Weather: Tornado
In the case of a tornado, flying and falling debris is the biggest danger. If there is immediate danger from a tornado or severe thunderstorm:
- Stay away from windows.
- Take cover immediately. Go to the basement or the center of the lowest level of your home. Bring your Storm Readiness Kit with you or it may be blown away by high winds. If no basement is available, get underneath something sturdy, like a workbench or heavy table, crouch down and cover your head. Under a stairway is also good.
- Cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
- Bring a radio with you to your place of shelter so you’ll know when the danger has passed.
- If you are caught outdoors and no shelter is available, crawl into a ditch, depression or culvert and cover yourself, protecting your head. Stay away from trees and cars, which may be blown on top of you.
- If you’re in a vehicle, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of the path of the tornado by driving at right angles to it. Otherwise, park your car quickly and safely, off the road. However tempting, don’t park under bridges,which can cause a traffic danger while giving you little protection.
For additional information, visit spc.noaa.gov and search on “tornado safety.”
3 Storm Kits
The Basic Kit: this storm kit will get your family through 48 hours without electricity and basic services and help you deal with storm- related emergencies.
The Upgraded Kit: If you’d like to feel more comfortable about your ability to survive a severe storm and you have the resources, consider an upgrade of the basic storm kit. The upgraded kit will help you through three to four days without electricity and other services.
The Ultimate Kit: If you live in a remote area, care for an elderly or physically challenged child or adult, or if you simply want maximum preparedness, this is the kit for you. It will help you through one week without electricity and basic services, or through catastrophic conditions.
For more in-depth lists for what to include in your Storm Kit click here.
Emergency Car Kit
Severe Weather Safety Tips
- If you’re wet, barefoot or standing in water, don’t use anything electric or try to plug in power cords.
- If you’re working outdoors or in an area with any dampness, use GFCI-protected outlets or extension cords.
- Stay away from downed power lines.
- Don’t walk in a flooded basement if the power is still on or could go on.
- Turn off the hot water heater (electric or gas) if there is any chance of flood.
- Avoid using candles. If a fire starts, there may be no phone service, the fire department may not be able to get to you, and fire hydrants may not be working.
- Don’t ever use a charcoal or propane grill in the house.
For more storm safety tips click here.
Protect Your Pets
To learn more about what type of generator is best for your needs click here.
Tie it Down
Click here to learn what to tie down and how to do it.
Storm Shutters for Doors and Windows
Removable shutters or panels attached to permanently installed bolts are a durable and economical solution that works with most windows and doors. After the first use, when the shutters are cut to size and bolts are set, these types of shutters can be installed and removed very quickly.
Permanently installed shutters are the most expensive option, but are convenient once they’re in place, and may qualify you for a discount on homeowner’s insurance.
To learn more in-depth information about the specific types of storm shutters click here.
Photo: David Papazian/Shutterstock
Reinforce Your Roof
To learn what steps you can take to reinforce your roof click here.
Strengthen Your Garage Door
Learn how you can strengthen your garage door yourself here.
However, if your door is made of lightweight materials, replacement is your best option.
Caulk and Seal
Get Your Home Ready for Floods
Learn what you can do to get your home ready for floods here.
Storm-Tough Building Products
- Many storm-tough products are also energy efficient products, helping reduce utility bills in the long run.
- Although the materials may be more expensive, the labor to install them is often no more than to install standard products.
- Most products, because they’re built to stand up to the elements, have a longer projected lifespan.
- Many insurance companies offer ot discounts to policy holders installing storm-tough materials.
Learn more about storm-tough shingles, roofing, gutters, siding, windows, doors and garage doors here.
Prepare Your Home Checklist
Plan your storm readiness improvement projects with this master list found here.
After the Storm
Quick tips for recovery:
- Don’t return to severely damaged buildings until advised to do so. There may be structural damage that makes the building unsafe to enter.
- Help a neighbor who may require special assistance: the elderly, people with disabilities and large families with young children.
- Take photos of the damage for your records and save samples of spoiled floorings and furnishings to show to your insurance claims adjuster.
Information for this post was made in collaboration with Lowes for a severe weather guide.