You’ve done the prep work. You’ve got your supplies ready. You’ve taken all the necessary home safety tips to mitigate storm damage. Your emergency kit is filled with everything you need to hunker down for days if needed.
Now it’s time to talk about how to get through the actual storm. Here’s what you’re going to need:
- An evacuation plan—hopefully you won’t need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry
- A safe spot indoors—find a secure area of your home to hunker down
- Find high ground—in case widespread flooding occurs, you’re going to need to know the fastest route to high ground. Make sure you know your route ahead of time.
If You Live in an Evacuation Zone
Download the FEMA app. Let’s get the most important rule out of the way: if you’re in a mandatory evacuation zone, you’ll need to grab your go-bag and head to your local Emergency Shelter. Not sure where yours is? Download the FEMA mobile app, which will have your local information.
Know your evacuation route. It is of critical importance that you know where to go in an emergency. You’re going to have to avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges, so try to stick to main roads as often as you can.
If you’re unsure of the safest route to get out, check your state’s Department of Transportation website (a simple google search will do the trick) or your local Office of Emergency Management (another easy google search). They’ll have routes laid out for you.
If you need to leave your pets behind: make sure you leave out plenty of water and some food. Hopefully you won’t be away for long, but they should be fine as long as they have water.
Write everything down! If you wait until the last minute—when the storm is in full force—chances are you will forget something important. The Red Cross has a very detailed Hurricane Prep checklist you can use. Make sure you write down your evacuation route and local shelter information.
If You Don’t Need to Evacuate
First off, consider yourself fortunate. Nobody ever wants to evacuate during a storm. BUT…even though there may be no official evacuation order, there is still a lot of home safety tips you need to be mindful of.
Know where the high ground is: If you live in low-lying areas that flood frequently, you may need to evacuate even though there is no official order. Make a note of where the high ground is near you. In flood situations, early action is essential. Once floodwaters reach you, it may be too late.
Home safety tips for staying inside: As a rule of thumb, you are going to want to stay away from any windows or glass doors. Strong winds or loose tree branches can easily shatter windows during a hurricane, so make note of where you will hunker down. Choose a windowless room on the lowest level of your home that is not likely to flood.
Quick ways to protect your home and stuff: Some of the most important safeguards can be accomplished in just a couple minutes. Start by unplugging all your appliances and electronics to make sure they’re not damaged by a power surge. If you have items of sentimental or monetary value on a lower floor, consider moving them upstairs in case of flooding.
In case you lose power: Power outages are incredibly common during powerful storms. If this happens, the first thing you should do is turn off your main power at the breaker panel. Also, turn off your main water supply and gas. Make sure your mobile phones are fully charged. To reduce the risk of fire, use flashlights instead of candles. Also, keep a portable battery-powered radio handy. Local radio stations can often be your most trusted source of information during power outages.
Backup generator safety: Many people have invested in backup generators to keep some of their power going during an extended outage. It is of the utmost importance to never use your backup generator indoors, as the exhaust fumes can be fatal. The same rules apply for the following equipment:
- Camp stoves
- Gasoline-powered tools
- Charcoal burning devices
Make sure you keep those devices outside, at least 20 feet from doors, windows, and vents.
Also, it’s important to remember to never use your backup generator DURING a storm, as there can be severe electrical risks.
How to Get Through a Blizzard
Here in New Jersey, blizzards are far more common than hurricanes. Though they typically don’t cause as much damage, there are still some important things you need to know in order to safely get through a huge snowstorm.
- Be mindful of leaks—One frozen, burst pipe can cause a world of damage. But you can proactively prevent leaks with a Roost Smart Water Leak and Freeze Detector. Best of all, it’s FREE for FMI Homeowner’s Policyholders. Claim your complimentary gear here.
- Use SmartHome technology: FMI also provides exclusive savings on a range of SmartHome products to help you stay on top of leaks, frozen pipes and more.
You can keep your house warmer—and keep your heating bills down—by making sure your home is properly insulated. Check your caulking and weather stripping as well, and replace anything that needs repair.
If you have exposed exterior pipes for your garden hose, make sure they are cleared of any water before the temperature drops, so they don’t burst. You can accomplish this by turning on the spigot, then shutting off the water main until the spigot drains completely.
Also, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. Keep plenty of spare batteries on hand, and clear your dryer vents of any accumulated snow. Speaking of snow, be careful shoveling. Don’t overexert yourself—every year snow shoveling triggers surprise heart attacks in otherwise healthy people. Don’t be a hero…make sure you take frequent breaks when shoveling huge amounts of snow.
Finally, don’t let ice knock you off your feet. Make sure you salt your walkways, driveways and exterior steps to prevent painful slips and falls.
Weathering the Storm
Remember: the most important home safety tip for getting through a storm is to be prepared. Make sure you know your evacuation routes ahead of time. Make sure you choose a safe spot to hunker down. And make sure to watch out for any flooding.
Have any other ideas for storm preparation? Let us know. We always want to hear from you.