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Preparing Your Home for an Emergency

During an emergency like severe weather, we all feel safe indoors. Having our home prepared is an extremely important task, and taking the time beforehand to prepare it both inside and out, is the key to being safe and sound.

Natural disasters are often in the news. Tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods are events that occur on a regular basis around the world. Often, people realize the need to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster, but don’t follow through. This lack of planning and preparedness can often result in surviving the disaster – or not. Even if no specific threat is looming in your area, it is a good idea to prepare your home for an emergency.


Power lines can be downed for a number of reasons, but the end result is the same. Your home is without power for a period of time. It’s important to have a back up source of power or an alternative plan in mind for when this happens. Often, a small generator is a wise investment, especially is power outages are fairly common in your area. A generator can be used to cook and refrigerate food, run medical machines, and run lights. Solar generators offer a way to get unlimited power. Because they make no noise and have no toxic fumes, you can use them in condos and townhouses where a gas generator wouldn’t be safe or allowed. If you don’t have a generator, consider your needs and decide how to meet them. A battery powered radio, a battery powered telephone, and a flashlight might be enough to meet your power needs.


Food is essential in emergency preparedness plans. In general, having a three-day supply of food stockpiled for each member of your household is sufficient. Consider having much more in the event of a pandemic. Canned foods are a good bet when creating an emergency supply. Canned meats, fruits and vegetables are easy to handle in an emergency situation in your home. These cans are less convenient during an evacuation. Portability can be an important factor in making food preparedness decisions. Freeze dried foods are easy to store and they are convenient. A wide variety of freeze-dried foods are available. Freeze dried foods have a long shelf life making them an excellent choice for planning for an emergency.


The general rule of thumb for storing water for an emergency is one gallon of water per day per person. You’ll need additional water for hygienic purposes and food preparation. Storing water safely is an important aspect of emergency preparation. Water storage systems, such as Watersafe, offer safe water storage options. Watersafe systems are affordable, convenient and are made from FDA approved materials. They are versatile so you will be able to find the storage system to suit your needs. Just as with food, water has a “shelf life” and should be replaced, on average, every six months. Including a water purification system in your emergency preparedness materials can also be a sound idea.


In the event of an evacuation, it is important to be able to leave your home quickly, taking with you all the important items in your emergency preparedness kit. Having a fireproof box filled with your important family documents ready at all times is part of any preparedness plan. In this box, you should keep copies of your social security card, your driver’s license, your will, your insurance papers, and copies of birth and marriage certificates. Having these items with you during an emergency can save you much time and trouble later.

General Maintenance

Make sure to keep up with routine maintenance on your home. Check the roofing to see that it’s solid and there are no leaks. Check the insulation in the walls as well as on the pipes. Each member of your house should know where and how to shut off water and other utilities, should the need arise. If you or anyone in your household needs special help during a weather emergency, such as a blizzard, make sure you have lined up the help you need. Speak to neighbors, friends, or other family members and let them know of your needs. Do the same for your neighbors and friends.

Know Your Environment

Preparations for your home depend on the types of emergencies in your area. Here are some of the things to consider:

  • In a flood, you should secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor. Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • In a flood situation, the highest point in the house is the safest. In tornado areas you would move to the lowest part of your home.
  • Blizzards can cause pipes to freeze if they are not insulated. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, be sure to have wood either inside the house or in the garage to avoid leaving the house.
  • In an earthquake, there are other issues to consider at home. After the quake, turn off the gas supply to the house. You should have a gas shutoff tool readily available.
  • Create a 30-foot vegetation-free safe zone around your house if you live in a wildfire area. Wood shake roofs are dangerous because airborne embers can catch them on fire. Have a garden hose that can reach where you will need it. Put a ladder out and have it ready if a fire might be coming.

Finally, if the order is given to your area, don’t wait. It’s time to go and time is of the essence. Take a look at our car section. Having your car ready to go, will save you the anxious feelings of not being ready to initiate your evacuation plan.