When the forces of nature’s fury strike, there is little you can do if your home is in its path. Tornados, floods, and fires are just some of the disasters from which we can all be at risk. That doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for, plan counter-action, and even prevent damage occurring to your property. After all, this is your home, your sanctuary and the place you should feel safe and protected.
Plan For The Worst
It’s important you plan for the worst so you can prepare for anything. This not only reduces the risk of maximum damage, but it can help you figure out how to prevent it altogether. Everything you own and care for is in your home. How will you protect all those things you hold dear?
Escape - Plan your escape. There is nothing more valuable in your home than the lives of you, your loved ones and your pets. If something happens in the middle of the night when you are all asleep, can you get everyone out of the house? Dangers inside the house could include fire. Smoke inhalation could be fatal before flames. To avoid it, stay on the ground and get out of the property as quickly as possible.
Even if you worry your children will become afraid, it is essential they know the escape route and the escape plan in the event of a fire. Practice with them, and test them from time to time. Make sure they know what the smoke alarm sounds like. Remind them to keep their bedroom tidy, so they can crawl on the floor to escape. Show them all the ways to create a soft landing if they have to get out of their upstairs window. This might include throwing bedding, pillows and stuffed animals down to land on. Mattresses can be too big and heavy for kids to move.
If your property is prone to wind storms like tornados, make sure you know where the most structurally sound part of the house is. This is where you should shelter in an emergency if you don’t have a formal storm shelter. Flooding can also occur during storms. Can you manage on the top floor of your property while you wait for dangerous waters to subside? If your area has flooded before, it could be worth keeping bottles of drinking water and some long-life snacks upstairs. This will keep you going until rescue arrives.
Prevent - To prevent the worst effects of a fire, unplug your unused electronics each night. Make sure all your soft furnishings are fire retardant. Close doors to rooms you’re not using overnight. Test your smoke alarms and replace batteries annually. Install sprinkler systems if your property is on many levels with limited means of escape. Make sure all your gas and electric ovens and hobs are off overnight. Never leave an electric heater unattended.
If you live in an area prone to flooding, you may need to use flood defenses like sandbags from time to time. Keep some in your garage so you can access them and utilize them if the forecast predicts problems. This is often enough to damage to a minimum. In areas with heavy rainfall, it can be best to use trees, shrubs, and grass around your property to soak up excess water. Avoid low-maintenance gardens that don’t allow easy run-away of rain water.
Protect - Protecting your most valuable documents and possessions is easier than you think. A metal box will withstand flames. Some safes can even withstand floods to keep your documents protected from damp. Flood damage can be devastating to everything the water touches as it can often be contaminated. Keep your most precious items upstairs. If they’re in a watertight plastic container, they should be safe from water damage.
Make sure you have a detailed list including photos of receipts for each item you hold dear. This may help with any insurance claims. It is also very useful for the police should your property be burgled.
If Things Go Wrong
No matter how well you have prepared, a big storm or natural disaster might still occur and cause substantial damage. Of course, the house itself could fall into disrepair, leading to damage and problems. One of the first courses of action after the event is to facilitate repairs.
Repairs - If your property is damaged, chances are there might be some safety issues. It’s really important you begin repairs as soon as it is safe to do so. In the case of plumbing leaks or burst pipes, repairs can be undertaken by a water damage cleanup service that can restore your property to good order again.
Water pipes in your home might run under your garden, in your basement, through each floor of your home, and even into the attic. Finding the exact location of a problem can be tricky at first as water runs down with gravity. However, a simple drip can cause staining and even mold over a seemingly short period of time. If the pipe deteriorates further and bursts, your entire home could be flooded and damaged. Your beautiful decor could be ruined, and much of your furniture may need to be replaced.
Water damaged ceilings often need to be repaired. The material used can become structurally unsound when soaked with water. There are several different ceiling types. All of them might be prone to substantial damage that requires professional repair. There is little you can do prevent staining or damage from water other than finding that drip and fixing it quickly!
If your home has been flooded from a storm or burst pipe, you might need to undertake water extraction from your carpets. Clean water from a fresh water pipe might not be a huge problem to deal with. The water can be sucked out with machinery that will drain the water away from your property. Over time it can dry out. Chances are the carpet will need to be dried out before you can remove it anyway. Floods from storms usually destroy carpets. The dirt and bacteria that is brought into your house will contaminate the carpet.
Aside from cleaning your carpets, you may have to spend quite a lot of time cleaning all the other surfaces of your home. If your home has been contaminated by flood water, you should engage the professionals who can manage the hazards safely. Water takes a very long time to dry out in a house, so you might need to use machines and dehumidifiers to help reduce the damp.
Sewage backups are also a cause of damage to the home. These are very unpleasant but are usually contained in a small, easy to clean area such as a bathroom. Of course, if your home hosts its own sewage system, damage to this could cause damage to your home. As with all things hazardous, it’s probably best left to the professionals to clean up and make your home safe.
Smoke damage from fires can leave a thick, sticky, black residue over everything in your home. Cleaning this up takes a very long time if you choose to tackle it yourself. It’s probably not ideal to just paint over it. Chemicals in some paints and chemicals from the smoke could interact. Also, the wall surface may not be primed for a good finish. Firefighting efforts could make it worse. There may be water, foam, and other materials that make the smoke damage more tricky to clean.
Broken glass is common when fires have occurred, or burglaries have taken place. It’s important to clear this up thoroughly. Small sherds can harm pet paws and children’s feet. Sweep what you can as vacuum cleaners can also be damaged by the sharp glass. Graffiti from vandalism can be personal and unpleasant to have to look at. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to clean up with only natural cleaners. Industrial chemical cleaners may be needed. Your local authority might be on hand to help you here as they have the kit and the experience for dealing with this kind of vandalism.
Water damage restoration services can be provided by professional companies on your behalf. You could simply move out of the house for a while and come back to something clean, safe and serviceable. If you love DIY and designing your own interior decor, then why not get involved here? Taking a positive approach to restoring your home can help psychologically and emotionally. After all, seeing your home damaged can be incredibly upsetting.
A claim on your insurance is the most common way of funding the restoration of your home following a fire, flooding, or vandalism. Some companies that specialize in restoration after this type of incident might be able to help you navigate the claims process. This can take a lot of the stress and strain out of an already distressing incident.
Preparing your home to cope with a disaster is important. It’s also important to prepare your family for them, such as by having regular fire drills. None of these events may ever happen to you, but you’ll be glad you were ready for them should they come. Stay safe.
How do you make strides to keep your home safe from disaster?