Protect your home before disasters and emergencies happen
by Dan Krell © 2012
Unlike recent years, when we experienced blizzards, earthquakes, and hurricanes, this year’s weather has been mild thus far – that is until last week. Although the disasters and emergencies we typically experience are usually local and often weather related; disasters/emergencies can also originate from other sources, such as: power outages, terrorism, wildfires, civil unrest, earthquakes, and pandemic health concerns. Even though we had some warning of the approaching storm, the after effects emphasize the need for preparedness.
If you don’t yet have a plan (or would like to update your current plan), preparedness information is available through Federal Agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.gov), the Department of Homeland Security (dhs.gov), and the Centers for Diseases Control (cdc.gov), and Citizen Corps (citizencorps.gov) .
FEMA’s “Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness” is a comprehensive source on individual, family and community preparedness. In addition to the pamphlet, there is an interactive guide with the focus “on how to develop, practice, and maintain emergency plans that reflect what must be done before, during, and after a disaster/emergency to protect people and their property” (www.ready.gov/are-you-ready-guide).
Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security offers advice on planning and preparing a disaster kit, as well as recommending to sign up for “Alert Montgomery,” which can alert you to emergencies by text messages, twitter, email and other devices (www.montgomerycountymd.gov/oemtmpl.asp?url=/content/homelandsecurity/index.asp).
Preparing for disaster/emergency also includes making sure your property insurance is adequate. Having the proper coverage may help you recover from a disaster quicker than those without coverage. Experts recommend that you review your home owners’ policy with your insurance agent (or insurance company representative) to make sure your coverage is up to date and is able to replace your home and/or possessions in case of a catastrophic loss.
Additional recommendations to mitigate damage from weather related disaster/emergency come from the American Insurance Association (aiadc.org). Your home can be prepared by ensuring that doors and windows are secure; ensuring that exterior doors should have at least three hinges and a deadbolt length of at least one inch; replacing older garage doors and windows for systems that are certified for wind and impact; consider storm shutter installation; repairing any cracks or leaks around windows, doors, roof, exterior walls and foundation; ensuring that gutters and downspouts are secure and can drain water at least five feet from your home; inspect the roof and repair if necessary; remove loose debris from around the home; remove dead or dying trees and shrubs; trim back tree limbs from your home’s exterior and roof; compile an inventory of your home’s contents by taking pictures or video.
Recognize your risks and plan accordingly. FEMA offers mitigation and risk planning resources such as: flood maps, loss mitigation software, and the risk management series. Along with these resources, FEMA offers specific advice on protecting your home or business from natural disasters, earthquakes, fire, flood and high winds (www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/howto/index.shtm).
And if you’ve yet prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remarks that “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” The CDC offers “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse:” preparedness for the Zombie Apocalypse and real emergencies (blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/05/preparedness-101-zombie-apocalypse).
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of July 2 , 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.