Hearing that a storm is approaching can make your stomach drop. Even "normal" storms can cause power outages and see trees falling down, but if you're bracing for a severe one, the risks significantly increase. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help protect your home, and we've compiled them here for you.
How to stormproof your home
General maintenance should be performed regularly to ensure that your home is in the best possible condition when a storm hits.
Keep gutters clear and well cared for
One of the best ways to prepare your home for a storm is to ensure that your gutters are clear and in good condition. Their purpose is to direct water away from your home, so you want them to do their job well. If you want to reinforce your gutters, we suggest having them installed with screws rather than nails, as this will make them harder to rip out if there is a storm with high winds.
Trim back trees near your home
A fear that many people have with storms is the risk of having the outdoors let itself in. This most commonly happens when trees decide to fall on roofs or through windows and can be quite a scary experience. In order to minimise this risk, it's important to trim back trees near your home regularly and have any dead ones removed as soon as you notice they're no longer stable.
Keep your roof in good condition
Regularly checking your roof to ensure that all materials are well maintained and secured where they should be is key to being prepared for storms.
Maintain all fences
This one may seem random, but if a fence falls over close to your home, it can do serious damage, so this should also be part of your maintenance routine. There is also a risk of fences being picked up and thrown about by the wind, so posts should be checked regularly to ensure that they're secure.
Install cyclone proofing upgrades
Shutters and straps can be purchased to help protect your home against particularly severe weather. The former is fitted to your windows while the latter helps ensure that your roof stays firmly attached to the rest of your home. While shutters are a good idea anywhere as they help increase home security, you probably won't need to install cyclone straps unless you're in an area prone to these events.
Preparing for a storm
Perform these steps when bad weather is approaching to give your home the best chance of being stormproof.
Check that all fixed outdoor items are properly secured
If you have outdoor items that are either fixed or hard to move (think swing sets, spas, fountains, etc.) now is the time to ensure that they're secure.
Bring all unsecured outdoor items indoors
Any outdoor items that are not fixed should be brought inside. This includes outdoor furniture, children's toys, plants in pots, etc.
Put out sandbags
If there is a risk of flooding with the upcoming storm, you don't want to be trying to keep water out while it's happening. Get your sandbags put out early to give the safety of your home and your family a boost.
Set up a generator
If power outages are likely and you have an emergency generator system, you're going to want to have it set up well before the storm arrives. This way you can just hit the "on" button and have power restored instantly if it goes out.
Protect your vehicle
Cars should be brought into garages or placed under carports. If this isn't an option your vehicle should be placed in an area that is as open as possible to minimise the risk of anything falling on it. You should also place a protective cover over the vehicle if you have one.
Close all doors and windows (even internal ones)
Closing doors and windows on the outside of your home probably sounds like a no-brainer, but did you know that it's also important to close interior doors when bracing for a storm? This is because it provides extra support for your roof, therefore increasing the stability of your home.
Check your emergency kit
If an incoming storm is looking to be severe, you'll also want to check on your emergency kit and ensure that it is fully stocked. Your kit should include emergency kit basics as well as important documents and sentimental items you don't want to lose.
Go over your emergency plan
Finally, knowing what to do in the event that things go badly is just as important as preparing your home to help ensure that they don't. Make sure everyone in your family knows what the plan will be if a particularly bad situation arises.
After the storm
Once the storm has passed, it's time to see where everything is at and perform any necessary damage control.
Inspect and document everything
The first thing on your to do list should be to inspect all areas of your home and property and document any damage. This way you know what you're dealing with moving forward, and can provide your insurance company or tradespeople with accurate information.
Clean up as soon as possible
If damage is minimal, or you've managed to get through the storm unscathed, it's time to start the cleanup process. This process will look different for everyone, but a good starting point is to remove any debris that has ended up in your space and return your fixed outdoor features to the state that they were in prior to the storm. If there is significant damage, however, skip to the next step, and then circle back to clean up efforts that you can do yourself.
Get straight onto your insurance
If your home has suffered significant damage during a storm, it is important to get ahold of your insurance company as soon as possible. This is so emergency trades can be organised to ensure that your home is safe for your family to occupy. Many policies will not cover trades that have been requested prior to speaking with them, so unless you're sure you will be covered, always reach out to your insurer first.
Plug any gaps
If the storm has created any gaps (small or large) you're going to want to make them safe as soon as possible. This could mean anything from filling small holes with putty until they can be repaired properly through to boarding up windows or larger areas where issues have arisen.
Complete any small repairs
Now that you've made everything safe and contacted your insurance about any issues they need to attend to, fixing anything that you can yourself should be your priority. This saves both time and money and helps prevent small problems from snowballing into larger ones.
Prune trees and plants
Trees and plants are usually the most hurt when a storm comes through. To help keep them healthy and prevent them from causing issues in future, be sure to prune them once it's safe to do so.
Keep doors and windows open
Finally, if your home has flooded but the weather is now dry, keep your doors and windows open as much as possible. This will help speed up the process of your home drying out, while also helping to reduce the growth of mould or mildew thanks to air circulation.
Storms are scary and can be quite dangerous. Ensuring that you're prepared helps minimise risk, so be sure to follow the tips in this article next time one approaches so you're as stormproof as possible.