This article will break down every type of disaster that could happen to you and your home in the United States, explaining exactly what the disaster is, how likely it is going to happen to you depending on where you live, and what exactly you can do to prepare your home. There’s no time like the present, so let’s get started!
Tornadoes aren’t just an issue in The Wizard of Oz. These rotating, funnel-like columns of air can happen anytime and anywhere, with winds of over 200 MPH. They won’t bring you to Munchkinland, though; rather, tornadoes can destroy buildings, flip cars, and create flying debris, creating dangerous conditions, according to the Department of Homeland Security website. Here’s how to prepare your home:
Hurricanes are gigantic storm systems that move from warm oceans towards lands and can involve strong winds, rain, floods, tornadoes and landslides. You should look out for hurricanes from the beginning of June through November 20th for states near the Atlantic Ocean, and from May 11th through December 30th if you live near the Pacific. If you live on a United States coast and 100 miles inland, or a territory in the Atlantic of Pacific oceans, September is peak hurricane season, so it’s best to prepared beforehand:
Earthquakes are sudden and rapid shaking of the earth caused by movement of underground rocks. With severe earthquakes, buildings can collapse and heavy items can fall, killing or injuring people. Although earthquakes can happen anywhere, they are most likely to occur in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Mississippi Valley. Unfortunately, earthquakes don’t come with any warning signs and can cause even more natural disasters, from fires to landslides. Here are some tips to prepare:
Floods happen when water temporarily overflows onto land, and they’re actually the most common natural disaster in the United States, resulting from rain, snow, dams, or any other overflowing of water systems. Floods can come with or without warning, causing power outages, damaging buildings, creating landslides, and disrupting transportation. What can you do to prepare your home from a flood?
Wildfires are any unplanned fires, caused by humans or lightning, that can burn in a forest, prairie or grassland and cause flooding or disrupted gas, power, communications or transportations. Wildfires can technically happen anywhere at anytime but are more likely with periods of drought and high winds, costing the federal government billions of dollars every single year. There’s a few things you can do to your home to prevent damage during a wildfire, including:
If you’re in Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska or South Dakota, then you’re probably pretty familiar with hailstorms. There were over 4,610 hailstorms in these states in the year 2018 alone, causing $810.2 million in damages, according to a report from the Insurance Information Institute. Fortunately, you can minimize damage from hailstorms by doing the following measures, provided by the insurance website Esurance:
According to an article from the National Weather Service, the Glossary of Meterology defines a drought as
“a period of abnormally dry weather sufficiently prolonged for the lack of water to cause serious hydrologic imbalance in the affected area.”
Droughts can affect nearly all of the United States, and there are many actions you can take at home to save water.
Extreme heat is more than just annoying and uncomfortable. It actually results in the highest number of deaths among all weather-related hazards, which is a problem considering how common it is. Extreme heat is defined as two to three days of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (although humidity doesn’t effect the temperature, it increases the feeling of heat, affecting the body).
As evaporation is slowed, the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which could put seniors, children, disabled and sick people more at risk of suffering or even dying. But don’t worry; there are many things you can do to your home to combat extreme heat:
No, I’m not talking about the Fleetwood Mac song. Landslides can occur anywhere in the United States and it’s territories. Caused by everything from earthquakes to storms, landslides happen when huge masses of rock, earth or debris move down a slope, changing into slurry, a flowing mud river.
Although this may sound relatively harmless, the further the slurry gets away from it’s original slope, the faster it gets until it reaches avalanche speeds (which even the fastest Olympian runner couldn’t beat). As the slurry gets faster, it also gets larger, picking up cars, trees, and anything that crosses it’s path. The most dangerous landslides occur quickly and without any warning signs.
Now, if you’re planning on building a house, keep it away from steep slopes and mountain edges. Basically, be sure to follow proper land use procedures, as they’re there for a reason. However, all landslide prone areas can’t be avoided, so if you live in one, I recommend hiring a geological hazard professional to recommend safety upgrades for your home, which may include:
However, these channels or walls may not stop the flow entirely, and if they redirect the flow to your neighbor’s property, you may be liable for damages.
Winter can be a magical time, but it can also be a dangerous time, with higher risk of car accidents, CO poisoning, frostbite, hypothermia, and even heart attacks stemming from over exertion. Extreme cold and snowstorms can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, knocking out power, heat, and communication services and leaving seniors, children, and sick people more at risk. So, what should you do to keep the winter wonderland outside of your home?
Thunder and lightning isn’t so frightening…that is, if you’re prepared for it. Although they may seem commonplace, thunder and lightning storms are actually one of the leading causes of injury and death if you’re talking about weather-related hazards. Aside from having powerful winds of over 50 MPH, thunderstorms can also cause flooding and tornadoes, so here’s how to prepare:
Nuclear power plants use heat generated from nuclear fission to convert water into steam, which powers generators which then produce electricity, about 20% of our nation’s power. Of course, this all takes place in a contained environment monitored by the Nuclear Regulator Commission, but accidents are possible and can affect anyone living near a nuclear power plant. The catch? Nuclear power plants operate in the majority of states in the United States, with about three million Americans living within 10 miles of an operating plant.
While there’s not much to do about a nuclear disaster except go to a mass shelter, you can make sure that you have an emergency supply kit complete with the following:
These materials will be used to cover doors and windows, although you should ideally go into a basement room without any windows. For more information on what should be in your emergency supply kit, scroll down towards the bottom of the article.
Power outages happen to the best of us, but if they’re extended, they can majorly disrupt transportation, water and communications, forcing businesses and services to temporarily close, spilling or contaminating food and water, and possibly preventing the use of medical devices. However, with a few preventative measures you can protect your home from power outages:
Now, no matter the disaster, you want to make sure that your home is stocked with an emergency supply kit, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security. Let’s go into detail.
Your emergency supply kit should be stored in a designated place in your home that all members know about and that is easily accessible. Make sure to keep canned food in a cool, dry place and any boxed food in plastic or metal, tightly-closed containers. Be sure to replace any expired food periodically and update every year based on your family members’ circumstances and needs.
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That’s my comprehensive guide on how to prepare your house for disasters! Of course, we hope that disasters never happen to you and your family, but being prepared in advance will give you peace of mind, and protect your home if anything does happen.
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