Preparing Your Home for Disaster

Prepare Your Home for Disaster

Preparing for the Worst Yet Expecting the Best

The thought “It will never happen to me” is one that most people have in the back of their heads. No one ever wants to think that it may be their home that gets demolished during a hurricane, tornado, flood or any other natural disasters. No home is safe from disaster but there are ways to prepare your home for those “just in case” moments!

Disaster

Below are some tips on preparing your home for a disaster but first….

Our Experience of Home Disaster

It was a Saturday afternoon, on April 16th of 2011 my husband and I were hauling a truck and a car full of moving boxes when I received a call from my dad as the weather started to turn. He was asking where we were at… road names. I knew something was wrong for him to be asking that detailed of a question. He quickly told me there were tornados touching down near us and for us to get to shelter immediately. He kept me on the phone tracking our every turn making sure we were out of the lines of the tornado threats. A few minutes later, I hung up with him as we pulled in to my in-law’s driveway. 

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The Lowes Home Improvement near our home

Within about two minutes, we had rapidly unloaded the boxes off the truck into a storage building and made it inside my husband’s parent’s house as the storm hit. I called to tell my dad we were unloaded and inside. Our phones had disconnected but I thought nothing of it other than how rough it was getting by us. In the mix of my dad being concerned for our safety, he did not realize a few hours away from us, that they were under the gun as well. 

Within minutes after our disconnected phone call, my dad called back. I figured to check on us. Instead, I heard, “We just got hit by a tornado. Mom and I are ok but the house isn’t.” Never in a million years would I expect my parents beautiful home to be destroyed by a storm we didn’t even know was about to hit! 

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My parent’s home before and after

Call after call came into my husband and I’s cell phones checking on us, news reports were already broadcasting horrific damage to our town. 

My parents were blessed to have such amazing church friends who within minutes had a team from their church at their house for emotional and physical support. Men and women went through the hardest hit rooms drying my parent’s furniture and salvaging anything and everything they could. They began boxing and hauling all of my parent’s salvageable belongings into the garage that had not been harmed. Men climbed on the roof to tarp it the best they could. A plan of action took place for the immediate needs.

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Group of church friends helping board windows and tarp the roof

Thankfully, my parents were safe and they had an amazing group of friends who were able to surround them to help. My parent’s church was part of the Southern Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief. They were trained for moments like this. Here are a few things my parents learned through the disaster that forced them to live in a rental while rebuilding their home. 

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Important Steps to Prepare Your Home for a Disaster

  • Have a plan. Do not assume you will never have to deal with disasters. Make sure if you have children that they are aware of the plan. Practice your plan. The plan should include where to take cover, escape plans if needed, and people to call aside from 911 if help is needed. 
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The room on the bottom floor was my parent’s “safe place”. It is the place they hid under mattresses until the tornado passed!

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Shortly after the tornado, my parents spending a few moments being thankful they were safe!

  • Phone Access For Children. Make sure if you have young children that you teach them how to use your phone. If you have a password protection on your phone and you know a bad storm is heading your way, consider taking the password off to make it easier if your child needs to make calls to close family or neighbors from your phone if you can not. Emergency calls can be made from the password protected phone but being able to call someone on your emergency plan (a neighbor or close friend/family member) can help calm a child if something were to happen to you as a parent during the storm.
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MANY phone calls needed to be made to friends, family, and insurance companies after the disaster.

  • Important Documents. Have all of your important documents in a water proof/fireproof container. This includes birth certificates, medical insurance, medical documents, marriage license, tax forms, insurance policies, titles to vehicles and homes, account numbers, and any other important documents. 
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My parent’s neighbor’s home was lifted several feet off it’s foundation while they were inside!

  • Take Photos. Take photos of each room in your home. When insurance gets involved, they want you to itemize every single thing. After a disaster, it is a lot harder to think of everything you had in your home! Taking photos will help you to be able to look back at the photos to make your list. Take specific photos of any high-value items such as antiques, furniture, etc.
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One of the guest bedrooms in my parents home

  • Receipts. Keep receipts of any purchases made. My parents had the receipts from when they first built their home. Insurance was trying to give them less than they had paid but thankfully since they had the receipts, the insurance agency considered the value of the home again with the receipts in hand. 
  • Medicines. Keep prescription medicines in ONE specific location so they can be easily grabbed if needed. 
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The front of my parents home.

  • Protect Keepsakes. Put any photos in waterproof/fireproof containers. Especially photos you do not have digital images of!
  • Flood Insurance. If you are in a flood zone, make sure you have flood insurance. Flood insurance is not an automatic when you get a basic insurance plan!

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  • Always make your bed. Ha! That was my mom’s advice. When you have a group of church members coming in unexpected, an unclean house can be embarrassing. This one is a little more humorous than serious but for those who are funny about cleanliness may take this one more serious 🙂

You never know when disaster might strike. Make sure you are prepared BEFORE the storms that may come your way!

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