Tips to Keep Your Home Safe in Extreme Weather

Written by | Updated October 11, 2013

The term “storm of the century” is rooted in time-honored weather patterns that tend to cause devastating floods, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and hurricanes roughly once per century.

In just the past handful of years, however, we’ve witnessed weather-related catastrophes that have caused untold damage in terms of human lives and property destruction.

Scientists are now saying these 100-year storms are happening at a much brisker pace, perhaps even every 100 days. According to the Georgetown Climate Center, the impact on personal losses is on the rise.

“There is a significant upward trend in the insured losses caused by extreme weather events,” according to the Georgetown Climate Center report. “This is true for primary insurance, which is impacted by an increasing attritional loss burden caused by severe local weather events, as well as for reinsurance losses caused by large-scale catastrophic extreme events.”

Considering the devastation recently witnesses from winter hurricanes in New Jersey, wildfires in Northern California, catastrophic flooding in Colorado, earthquakes in China and Pakistan, and flooding in Africa, the extent to which humans are affected by these weather-related events is obvious.

Here’s a look at how you can prepare your family for emergency situations that could leave you without water, food, electricity, and public services for extended periods of time.

Invest in an electrical generator.

Small gas-powered generators can be found at your local home improvement and hardware stores and offer a wide range of options and power output. Typically, the more you spend, the more power you can generate. If your only consideration will be small electronic items, generators creating up to 1000 watts are ample. They generally come with a 1 gallon gas tank and will run for several hours while providing all the power you need to keep phones and tablets fully charged, and cost well under $200 in most cases.

Store the necessary gasoline for your generator in five-gallon cans or containers approved by the Department of Transportation for your particular type of fuel.

Speak with your local home improvement expert to get a feel for what kind of power you will need to generate in case of a power outage. Weigh your options carefully and purchase the generator appropriate for your situation.


Have an adequate food and water supply.

How you ever considered how you and your family will you survive if your house is without power and water for up to two weeks? This is the amount of time most residents along the New Jersey seaboard were without services after hurricane Sandy.

Water Supply:

The rule of thumb for your water supply is to have one gallon of purified water for every person in your household for every day you will be without. The Center for Disease Control recommends a three-day water supply as a bare minimum, drinking at least two quarts of water every day during the emergency, and more if you’re in a warmer climate. Storage space taken into consideration, there’s no wrong answer on the question of water storage. A family of four would need 56 gallons to adequately manage two weeks without water.

Food Supply:

Canned, bottled, and freeze dried foods are your best bets when putting your emergency preparedness plan into effect. Because we never know when a disaster might strike, it’s important to have a cache of foodstuffs that will remain edible for a long time. Be certain to include the items you will need to be able to prepare and eat this food. This can include a propane camping stove, utensils and dishes, a can opener, hot pads, pots and pans, and liquid soap that can be used for multiple purposes, including personal hygiene. The idea is to have the things you will safely and securely set aside in storage containers to use when the time arises.
food storage

Store extra batteries, clothing, and important personal items.

How many times have you found a flashlight in the dark only to discover the batteries are dead or missing? In a real emergency, this can be a serious setback. Never underestimate the importance of having a selection of the most common battery sizes available to you and your family in the event of an emergency. Keep them stored with the things they’ll operate, like flashlights and portable radios, and periodically check their expiration dates to ensure they’re still function. From a purely safety standpoint, opt for batteries and flashlights over matches and candles, which can lead to further problems including fire, burns, and even explosions.

Clothing Considerations:

The larger your family the more clothing you’ll have to set aside for emergencies. The most important items include socks, underwear, weather gear including those appropriate for rain and snow, work gloves, towels of all sizes, sturdy shoes, as well as personal hygiene products. Consider storing the types of clothing must conducive to layering. Remember, you can always take off additional layers as the weather warms, but only if you have them in the first place.

Personal Items:

Some personal items are more important than others, and this may be the deciding factor on how you deal with them from an emergency preparedness point of view. Important documents like deeds, insurance papers, passports, birth certificates, and even emergency cash should not only be stored in waterproof containers, but also inside a fireproof safe or vault.

Medicine and medical necessities, on the other hand, may be less easy to store or even recover in the event of a catastrophic event. If you can get to them in an emergency, great. If not, it becomes critically important you fully understand the medical necessities of everyone in your home as you may have to explain them to emergency response personnel to avoid confusion, additional injury, or even death.

keep your home safe in extreme weather

It’s nearly impossible to prepare for every eventuality, but taking even the most basic steps toward emergency preparedness is better than doing nothing. The CDC has further guidance on how to assemble a useful disaster kit. Understanding the worst-case weather scenarios in your area will guide you on the specifics of your endeavor, and paired with the basics above can have you weathering the worst of situations.

Written by John Roskelley

John is a hockey fan, frequent fisherman, and former Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. He nerds out to finding new gadgets that help keep his family safe. Learn more

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