Natural Disaster in Your Town – Tips To Secure Your Home
Overwhelmingly adverse events that bring damage to both life and property, natural disasters are an unstoppable force resulting from Earth’s natural processes.
However, with the passage of time and numerous trial and efforts, humankind has accomplished some resilience through experience and advancement in technology.
While the Act of God is irreversible, however, people can be trained and equipped with the necessary resources to overcome challenges imposed by natural disasters through better precautions and increased awareness of the looming threat.
According to a recent study by Our World in Data, natural disasters kill on average, 60,000 people per year around the globe. Over the past decade, 0.1% of deaths are accredited to natural disasters throughout the world.
However, over the past century, we have seen a large decline in deaths caused by natural disasters. Back in 1983, around 460,342 fatalities were caused by natural disasters alone, followed by 317,757 fatalities in 2010. In 1556 the Shaanxi earthquake in China resulted in the deaths of more than 830,000 people.
In light of this information, let’s take a quick look at how you can protect your house and loved ones during an event of an uncontrollable natural disaster.
While there are several earthquake drills that you and your family should practice regularly in case you are living in an earthquake-prone zone, there are numerous things you should do:
- Have an Emergency Plan – family emergency communications, have a supply kit (food, water, flashlight, fire extinguisher, whistle, first-aid, etc.)
- Protect Your Home – keep heavy and breakable objects on low shelves, consider professional assistance for fixing structural issues with your home, along with an earthquake insurance policy.
- Register on the American Red Cross “Safe and Well” website so that people can know that you and your family are doing okay.
- Remember the Drill – drop down onto your hands and keens. Immediately find a cover like a sturdy table or desk and cover the head and the neck region. Hold on to your shelter until the shaking stops.
- Strengthen Your Home – buildings constructed before 1980 are less resistant to earthquake damage due to older building codes. Reinforcing your home’s foundations, floors, walls, and roof will improve its ability to withstand lateral and vertical forces. Reinforced concrete construction makes the safest houses through the combination of steel and concrete, providing three important qualities: ductility, stiffness, and strength.
Unlike earthquakes, you receive ample warnings from your state authorities about any region that they can impact with floods. Flood warnings are a dire concern and should be heeded at all cost.
During emergency warnings, you should gather supplies, listen to your local news for updates, and store immunization records and other important documents in waterproof containers.
Furthermore you store at least 1 gallon of water per day for each person/pet and store at least a 3-day supply. If evacuation is the only remedy, then turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve. For your homes, you should do the following:
- Use the FEMA Flood Map service to evaluate your risk of flooding and check reports for your region’s flood history. The flood maps include zone markings:
- Blue with Red Stripes: regulatory floodways – include river, surrounding floodplains, and extensive precautions have to be taken to protect the home from flooding.
- Blue Zones: 1% annual chance – likely to face significant flooding at least once every 100 years.
- Orange Zones: 0.2% annual chance – likely to face significant flooding at least once every 500 years.
- Yellow Zones: undetermined flood risk – researching the area’s flood history is recommended.
- All circuit breakers, outlets, sockets, and switches should be at least a foot above flood level to avoid electrical damages.
- Apply coatings and sealants to your home’s foundation, walls, windows, and doorways to prevent floodwater from leaking through cracks.
- Install check valves on your pipes. This will help to prevent a flooded sewage system from backing up into your home.
- Install foundation vents or a sump pump. Foundation vents form a wet flood-proofing to allow water to flow through your home, whereas sump pumps are frequently used to pump water out of the basements.
- Keep air conditioning units, dryers, generators, washing machines, and water heaters elevated above flood level.
- Leave space between the mulch and sliding as mulch can rot your house’s sliding and can lead to leaks.
- Point your downspouts away from your home since if your gutter runoff is not pointed away from your house, it can eventually create leaks in your basement.
- Raise your home on stilts or piers, where even an inch of floodwater can lead to significant damage.
It is important to know evacuation routes in hurricane-prone areas, and you must listen to radio or television channels that offer you up to date and the latest information.
A hurricane watch is also issued that offer you condition within 36 hours. When issued, a hurricane warning means that winds of at least 74 miles per hour are expected within 24 hours.
It is important to have a disaster plan before a hurricane which includes your pets and preparing them for an emergency. Have a disaster supply kit for both your home and car.
Food supplies must be stocked for at least three days, and first aid kits along with bottled water, flashlights, battery operated radio, and some cash for emergencies. For your homes, you should do the following:
- Brace overhead light fixtures and unplug small appliances. Fasten shelves securely or take them down. If you have boats, then moor them securely. Move wall-hung picture and mirror away for beds.
- Place large and heavy objects on lower shelves. Secure outdoor objects and bring them inside. Turn of gas bottles and shut off fuel lines. Turn off electricity at the breakers and protect windows with anchored plywood or shutters.
- Fill a tub with water to augment supply and take cover near a central location of the house. Avoid metal fences as they can ‘live’ from downed power lines. In case of your home, suffering structural damage, then having your home inspected is most recommended.
It is important to know that there is no guaranteed safety during a tornado, so even a possibility of a tornado should always be taken seriously. While extremely violent EF5 tornados are extremely rare, most violent tornadoes can blow away almost any house. The only thing you can do is be prepared.
For instance, you can use fresh batteries and battery-operated TV, radio, or internet-enabled devices to listen to the latest emergency weather information. You should also prepare an emergency kit, including medication, non-perishable food, and water. For your homes, you should:
- It would help if you considered having a basement or an inside room without windows on the lowest floor. This will serve as your safe place when a tornado warning is issued.
- Practice a family tornado drill at least once a year and know that flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes. Hence it’s best to store protective coverings (e.g. sleeping bags, blankets, mattress, etc.).
- Get yourself on the safe and well website so that your family members, relatives, and loved ones can reach out and know whether you’re safe and sound during the disaster.
- If authorities ask you to evacuate your homes, then only return when it has been officially reported as safe to return.
- Continue listening to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
As we step into the future, organizations like FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) have been investing in technological resources that predict natural disasters before they happen.
Side by side, the American Red Cross and natural disaster response teams, are also striving to improve their services and aid those who are in need.
There is very little at present that mankind can do to prevent natural disasters and the destruction that follows them.
However, creating awareness about the threat they pose and our own preparedness can help in substantially dampening their impact on lives, properties, and our economy.
Amanda Jerelyn currently works as a Content Executive at Crowd Writer and Student Essay. This is where higher education students can acquire thesis writing services from experts specializing in their field of study. She likes to go for long walks on the beach with her pet terrier during her free time.