Preparing Your Home for Hurricane Joaquin
Hurricane Joaquin is gaining power and will likely bring heavy rain and severe storms to the Eastern US over the course of the next few days. This storm has already dumped a substantial amount of rain on us, and it is expected to last throughout the weekend and early next week.
Even if this hurricane does not make landfall, it still promises to bring torrential rain and wind that could cause severe damage to your home. Whether the main storm is projected to hit your exact area, you need to make hurricane preparedness your top priority.
Preparing Your Home for Hurricanes
Put Together an Emergency Kit
Prepare yourself and your family for the worst by creating an emergency supply kit. Before the storm starts, FEMA recommends putting together an emergency kit that includes the following:
- One gallon of water per person for at least three days
- Three days of non-perishable food
- Can opener
- Hand-crank or battery-powered radio with extra batteries
- First aid kid
- Emergency whistle
- Plastic sheeting, duct tape and dust mask for emergency shelter and contaminated air
- Garbage bags, plastic ties and moist towelettes for sanitation
- Pliers/wrench to turn off utilities
- Local map
You may also want to put together a go-bag in case you need to evacuate quickly. This bag should contain clothing, basic toiletries, first aid kit, cash, ID, batteries, flashlight and a cell phone charger.
Hurricanes can cause major damage and pose a huge risk to life. If you are advised to evacuate, don’t chance it; listen to the authorities and get out.
Stay advised of the current situation by paying attention to TV, radio or web broadcasts. Pay close attention to hurricane watches and warnings. A watch indicates that there is a threat of a hurricane within 48 hours. A warning indicates that a hurricane is expected within 36 hours, and you need to complete your preparations and, if advised, evacuate immediately.
Secure all outdoor fixtures and objects, and bring what you can inside to prevent damage and avoid them turning into projectiles in high windows. Close and reinforce your windows and doors.
Defending Your Home Against Water Damage
Since rain is one of the most damaging elements of a hurricane, waterproofing should be a priority. Make sure your roof is in good condition, and perform any necessary repairs. Clean your gutters and downspouts to ensure that water flows freely away from your home.
Inspect your storm doors, windows and basement to make sure that they are properly sealed and will not allow water in your home. Making sure everything is watertight is the best way to protect your home from flooding.
If you don’t already have one, install a sump pump in your basement. A sump pump is designed to remove water from your home. Typically, they are hooked directly to your electrical supply. Losing power means that your sump pump will stop functioning unless you have an emergency generator or battery backup.
If you already have a sump pump, check to ensure that it is in working order. Test the battery backup, and recharge or replace it as needed. If you have a generator, make sure you have enough fuel. Clean the pump’s inlet and outlet, and make sure the pump is standing upright. Pay close attention to warning signs, like unusual noises or smells, which could indicate a problem with your pump. Test your sump pump by simply pouring water into the sump well. As long as it kicks on and removes the water, your pump should be good to go.
Make sure you have current flood insurance to protect you in the event of flooding. Sometimes even the best preparations simply aren’t enough to defend your home against Mother Nature. Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance does not cover flood damage, so make sure you have separate flood insurance.
When a hurricane or severe storm is imminent, safety should always be your top concern. For additional information, please check out the hurricane safety guide from the American Red Cross.