It was our first year in our newly constructed home, and because the neighborhood was still developing, our house sat at the very top of the hill. This was one of the biggest selling points for my family—a seemingly endless backyard that stretched all the way to the peak of the mountains. However, this selling point proved to be a disaster for our new house that first year.
That year we got a lot of snow, and rain, and just all around precipitation. Therefore, when all the snow at the top of the mountains started to melt and the rain at the top of the hill started to move downward, you can probably guess where the stopping point was—the house at the top of the hill—our house.
Our family and the other neighbors quickly got to work sandbagging the perimeter of our house like it was Fort Knox. Unfortunately, this was after the window wells in the basement had filled up with water and burst the glass. My 3-year-old daughter was concerned, but mostly upset after she put her orange floaties and goggles on, only to be told that she could not go swimming in the basement.
Long story short, we learned a valuable lesson that year—prepare for disaster. Whether it’s a glass-shattering flood, electrical fire, or earthquake, the following are five disasters you should prepare for:
- Tornado– Created from instability in the atmosphere, these violent and deadly windstorms are most common in the central U.S. area known as “Tornado Alley.” These natural disasters can last anywhere from 20 seconds to an hour. Each year, 90 people are killed from tornados and millions of dollars worth of damage occurs. It’s best to prepare with a tornado shelter, or go into the basement. Have supplies ready in these shelters.
- Hurricane– These intense tropical storms can strike any coastal area, but differ depending on the location. These types of storms are often referred to as typhoons, cyclones, or hurricanes, and incorporate high winds (sometimes tornados) and water. Flash flooding and landslides typically result from the excessive rain, and the effects can permeate hundreds of miles inland as well. Be ready with these hurricane preparation tips.
- Flood– Heavy precipitation, a dam or levee faulty, or overland flooding can cause serious damage to homes and communities. Floods are one of the more common natural disasters and can happen no matter where you live—be ready. Another important factor to consider is that most rental and homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage.
- Fire– Whether a fire is a natural wildfire or is due to manmade causes, fires are scary and often preventable. Installing smoke detectors, having a fire extinguisher on hand, and keeping tabs on wildfires will greatly reduce the risk of fire-related damages and injuries.
- Earthquake– Did you know that 39 of the 50 states face moderate to high earthquake risks? Programs such as the Great ShakeOut and publications like those from FEMA help communities prepare for earthquakes.
Bottom line, disasters are unpredictable. This is why disaster awareness and preparation are essential. Stock up on the supplies you’ll need in case of natural disasters or manmade tragedies in your area, have family and community evacuation plans, and get your kids some floaties and goggles just in case the basement does, in fact, become swimmable.