5 Steps to Prepare Your Home for Natural Disasters
Updated: Feb 26, 2020
Natural disasters are an unfortunate occurrence that many people have had to deal with over the course of their lifetime. No one enjoys this, and too often those who are affected need to spend thousands of dollars on recovering their property once the disaster is over. Unfortunately, natural disasters can't be avoided, but how you deal with them can impact how easily you and your property are able to recover.
Having adequate insurance is a good first step, but for many people it would be better to help mitigate some of the damage before it can happen, through taking steps to prepare your home ahead of time. These five steps can help you make sure that you're ready for whatever may come.
1. Choose Higher Ground
If you are thinking of purchasing a home, consider the location of the properties you look at. It's important to remember that water flows downhill, so homes at the bottom of a hill will be harder hit in the event of a flood than those on higher ground.
If you're able to choose the location of your home, take a look at the area. Look at the position of any hills or valleys, and the direction of the street. Consider if your home is lower or higher than surrounding properties. If it's lower, then you may want to take additional steps to help protect it from flooding.
2. Learn About Previous Water Levels In The Area
Water has a habit of returning to areas it's been to in the past. If there has been a flood in your area before--even if it was years ago--there is a chance that you could have another flood in the future. Flood maps are often available at town or city halls that can show you where water has risen to in the past. If your home lies in an area that has seen flooding, then you may want to consider taking additional steps.
Keep in mind that due to things like climate change, water levels and flood areas can change. If your home is located near a previous flood zone, it could be located inside the next one. I can be important to learn how frequently storms occur in your area as well, so you can take more precautions to protect your home.
3. Install A Sump Pump
Sump pumps are an important part of any flood protection plan. Sump pumps are installed in a pit in your basement and collect water as it enters. The pump activates when the water in the pit reaches a predesignated level, and pumps it up and out of your home. It can help keep your basement dry. They are relatively inexpensive to install, costing between $550 to $1,100.
Some homes already have sump pumps installed. If you already have one, make sure it's working. You can test it by pouring water into the pit to see if it activates properly. If it doesn't, then consider repairing or replacing it now, before a disaster occurs.
4. Install a Generator
Natural disasters come in all shapes and sizes, not just rainfall and flooding. During a disaster, you may lose power, heat, and other conveniences, and they may not be available again for several days. A standby generator can help you in these instances by providing the necessary electricity to your home. This is particularly important for the elderly, those with small children, and the disabled who may have medical devices that need to be plugged in or who may have difficulty leaving their home in the event of a disaster.
A standby generator is installed beside your home and is connected to a fuel source such as natural gas or propane. It activates automatically in the event of an outage, and will keep your home supplied with power until help can arrive. They cost between $4,000 and $10,000 to install, but may offer peace of mind in the event of a disaster.
5. Consider Lifting or Retrofitting Your Home
Lifting your home is probably one of the last things you want to do, but it can add a layer of protection to your property in flood prone areas. Lifting your home generally involves raising it above flood levels so water will flow beneath it, rather than entering. This is by no means a cheap project, but the initial cost to lift the home(link is external) will be less than the cost to deal with your home after a flood(link is external). Since just one inch of water can cost you as much as $27,000, and several feet of water can mean the difference between recovering your home or losing it, most people find lifting to the better choice.
Retrofitting your home can also help protect your home from disasters. Retrofitting reinforces those areas that could be weakened or damaged(link is external) by high winds, floods, or earthquakes. Generally, your home is inspected by a qualified engineer, who can help you determine what and where to retrofit or reinforce. The process can be simple or complicated depending on your region, the types of natural disasters that may hit there, and the current condition of your home. However, it can help protect your home and belongings from serious damage, which may cost more than the retrofit.
Be Prepared for Natural Disasters
Natural disasters are becoming more common, and every homeowner needs to know how best to protect their investments. It is important to understand the location of your home, and what you can do to protect it.
The cost to repair a home after a disaster can often be higher than the cost to prevent a disaster. Cleaning up after a flood can cost more than $20,000 for a single inch of water, while other disasters can cost even more.
To learn about the cost of household remodeling projects, visit the Cost Guides(link is external).