Last week, Ruth wrote about the horrible flooding in her area that left many dealing with destroyed homes, and even some fatalities. Natural disasters are horrible things. When the earth gets off kilter, winds rave, fires ravage, rains crash down, and the happenings destroy much in their paths. Like some of the commenters on Ruth’s post, we live in a relatively “safe” area when it comes to natural disasters. We’re not near oceans where hurricanes dwell, or near volcanoes where lava erupts, or in an earthquake zone.
However, our Midwestern area is known for tornadoes and mega thunderstorms. When we moved out to the country from suburbia, we had no idea what damage storms caused out here. In the country, the wind is stronger due to the scarcity of buildings and people.
I’ll never forget the first BIG storm that hit out here after we moved in. The strong walls in our old Victorian home hid most of the noise from us as the storm raged during the night. About 3 a.m., the kids woke me up and we all sauntered downstairs – it just feels safer when a big storm is raging.
As we sat in the living room we looked out the big bay window, which was half-covered with branches. Since we’d just moved in a few months earlier, we were still getting to know the layout of our nearly 8-acre land. “I don’t remember a tree being outside that window. Is there a tree outside that window?” we wondered to each other.
When the pitch black night wandered away a few hours later, we’d find out that there was indeed a tree outside of the bay window, but it hadn’t been there the night before.
As we went out to peruse the damage the storm had done to our yard we found downed trees EVERYWHERE. Thankfully, the damage to the house and outbuildings was minimal, but the mess was HUMONGOUS.
We spent a good two weeks cleaning up trees, branches and leaves, as did the rest of our neighbors. It was horribly hard work, but we were thankful to walk away with ourselves, our house and buildings intact. Not everyone did.
When natural disasters are coming, you can’t usually stop them but you can do much to prepare. Here are some tips.
To Leave or Stay?
Depending on the type of disaster, you may need to leave your home or to stay in it. My advice: If the authorities tell you to leave, leave. You don’t want to put yourself or the authorities in a position where your lives are at risk because you didn’t heed their advice and now they’ve got to come rescue you out of a situation that is life-threatening for all.
If you have to leave, do a quick pack of your most treasured possessions (for me that would be pictures), your identifying documents (passports, birth certificates, etc. Ours are all in an easy-to-grab gallon zip lock bag), some basic necessities and any cash you have on hand. Then get the heck out of dodge.
If it’s best to stay, make sure you’re in a safe place in your home or wherever you’re at. If a tornado is looming, head down to the basement. If flooding is a risk, get to a higher level in your home. If you are not at home, STAY where you’re at until the threat subsides. Don’t try to beat the storm home.
Prepare as Best You Can
If you’re staying, do what you can to prepare. If a storm is ensuing, put all patio furniture, outdoor toys, etc. in the garage or other area to keep them from blowing into windows, etc. Put your storm windows up or board the windows if necessary. If flooding is a risk, surround your house with sandbags and get all important belongings out of the basement or up on blocks or shelves. If wildfires are near, douse your home and roof with water to help shield it from fire risk. Give yourself and your home a cushion against the risks if possible.
Be Properly Insured
Proper insurance is a must when it comes to natural disasters. Talk to your homeowners insurance provider about potential natural disaster risks in your area and whether or not you’re covered for them. If your current insurance company isn’t willing to cover certain natural events, check with other insurance companies to see if they will.
If you’re a renter, make sure you carry renter’s insurance that will cover replacement of your belongings in the event of a disaster.
Keep Your Head on Straight
In the prepping world, we know that emotional preparedness is just as important as physical preparedness. If you can’t or aren’t willing to adapt to the situation, you’ll have a tough time knowing how to properly prepare for or respond to a natural disaster.
Be Financially Prepared
Like with all things in life, natural disasters are better handled when money isn’t an issue. Get your debt paid off. Build up your savings account. Keep some cash at home for emergencies and be properly insured. Knowing that you are doing everything you can to keep a natural disaster from hurting you physically or financially will go a long way in helping you overcome the situation.
What other tips would you add to help people prepare for a natural disaster?