Preparing Your Home for Extreme Weather

This past weekend, the East Coast was hit by a major snowstorm that impacted residents from New York to Topeka. Over 73 million Americans in total were affected by the snowstorm, forcing many residents to stay at home and wait it out.

People living in southwestern states like Texas, or out on the West Coast, likely won’t have to deal with snowstorms as severe as those that blanketed folks back east. Still, people living in subtropical regions should be completely prepared for extreme weather conditions. In fact, it may be all the more reason to be on guard. With that in mind, we will focus on some tips anyone can use, regardless of where they live, that will properly prepare their homes for any form of extreme weather.

Tip #1: Prep your home.

Preparing for extreme weather means preventing your home foundation from cracking or otherwise deteriorating. Home foundation cracks can result in uneven walls and floors, as well as the formation of frost and ice underneath the home during the wintertime. The first step in extreme weather preparation is creating a plan of action that can help you determine your home’s vulnerable areas (e.g., cracks in windows) and the means to protect them (e.g., weatherproofing). From there, execute the necessary steps to put your plan into action. If you’ll be out of town and away from your home for a significant period of time, you should decrease the thermostat, unplug appliances and turn off the hot water heaters.

Tip #2: Protect your pipes.

As the temperature gets colder, outdoor faucets and hoses become particularly vulnerable to bursting from the inside. This can be prevented by first running those faucets of any excess water, followed by shutting off the faucets at the source (which will most likely the inside valves). If you’re worried that your indoor pipes may freeze, drain the waterlines and open the faucets inside your home. It’s also recommended that you insulate your pipes in order to protect them from extreme weather—wrapping them in a towel will do just fine.

Tip #3: Remove wet and heavy debris.

Be sure to clear the outside gutters, drains and vents around your home to ensure that heating systems remain operational. Also, be sure to clear excess debris from the top of your roof so that its weight doesn’t cause a collapse. Finally, we recommend using rock salt (although sand will also do in a pinch) to remove any possible snow and ice from around your home.

Tip #4: Assemble an emergency kit.

Like any good Boy or Girl Scout, you want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario in which extreme weather knocks out the power in your area. Stock up on groceries and other necessary supplies beforehand in the event that the weather outside leaves you homebound. In addition, you should have an prepared emergency kit with the following items in it: at least one flashlight with working batteries (including an extra set just in case); a handheld radio to check for changes in weather conditions; and bottled water and other rations that won’t go bad if they’re not refrigerated. For more information about what should be included in your emergency kit, consult this list of items from the American Red Cross.

Tip #5: Take care of your vehicle.

Although it isn’t directly related to foundation repair care, your car is arguably the second-biggest investment you have after your home. For this reason alone, it’s important to make sure it’s in good working order should you need to brave the outdoor elements. Some keys to ensuring your car is in tip-top shape: a working car battery, solid coolant levels, and good tire pressure/tire tread.

Tip #6: Wait it out.

Bad weather can frustrate even the most patient of people. Once the rain or snow has ceased, the temptation is to get back outdoors and go about your regular activities. But before you decide to go out, ask yourself the following question: is the activity I wish to perform completely necessary at this time? If it’s not, stay safe and stay home. If warding off cabin fever is your biggest concern, divert yourself by reading a game or watching a movie.

For anything else we didn’t cover here, check out this CDC checklist for extreme weather preparedness. Stay safe, everybody!