Disaster has been in the news this week, with the string of damaging tornadoes in Oklahoma. We used to think of tornadoes as an event that rarely struck here in New England, but after the destruction in Munson in June 2011, and after confirmation that a small twister touched down in Stoughton on May 9 this year, we may need to start thinking about high wind events in addition to hurricanes, and how to prepare for them. Super Storm Sandy was not exactly a hurricane, but the damage she did was not much different.
Of course, hurricane season is approaching, too, so what can homeowners do now to prepare themselves? Lest we think that it involves a huge “honey do” list, some preparations are simple and only take a little while. Of course, others are best handled by professionals, perhaps when you build a home in the first place, or while making renovations. For example, there are “hurricane straps” that can be fitted to help prevent a roof from lifting off a house. No one knows hurricanes like the Floridians, and there are many resources, such as the “Hurricane Retrofit Guide” available on webSites such as www.floridadisaster.org.
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Inc., FLASH, is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 organization dedicated to promoting disaster safety and property loss mitigation. IT has joined State Farm Insurance and Kohler Generators in sponsoring a website designed to help families prepare. It’s called The Great Hurricane Blowout (http://www.greathurricaneblowout.org).
The site has suggestions on how you can start preparing, in just an hour, a day, or a weekend at a time.
For example, in an hour, you could put together a list of the items outside your home that should be brought in should there be an impending storm — it even gives you a form with some suggestions, such as grills, planters, tools, toys, swimming pool equipment, etc.
In a day, you can create a home insurance inventory, with photographs, to store in a safe place, such as your safe deposit box. That can help make claims a lot easier to file if you do sustain damage or lose valuables in a storm. In a day, you can also check for leaks around windows and doors, and check soffits and shingles for damage or wear. When wind gets in to spaces, it can set off a domino effect of lifting shingles, or driving rain into the interior of the home.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency suggests that, regardless of other preparations you make, you should be prepared to weather a storm for at least three days without power. Its suggestions on preparing your home can be found on the Mass.gov website, http://1.usa.gov/10qbCu6.
Of course, an important aspect, once you prepare your home, and have your emergency plan and supplies, is to be sure you get notification of an impending storm. For those with iPhone or Android devices, there’s an app for that, available from the American Red Cross on Google Play. There’s one called Tornado, one called Hurricane, and even First Aid Wildfire, and Earthquake applications here: http://bit.ly/10nvnpL.
Remember, the Boy and Girl Scout motto is “Be prepared.” Wise words for this season or any other!
Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.