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Getting Your Home Ready for Seasonal Storms

Getting Your Home Ready for Seasonal Storms
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BY PAUL MOORE

The current hurricane season has hit the nation hard. While wildfires rage out west, the south is being hammered with wind and rain. South of the border the residents are cleaning up after an earthquake. There will be plenty of discussions about building stronger structures and updating residential code requirements for the increase in the fierceness of storms and frequency of earthquakes, but here are some simple things you can do to prepare for those regular weather events that may not be life-threatening but often cause minor damage to your home.

Sand Bagging

For major storms you are likely to see large walls built of sandbags to hold back flood water from getting into homes. However, even a short torrential downpour that occurs with an average thunderstorm may cause water to get in under your garage, patio or basement do. Having a few sandbags around to redirect water flow during heavy rain can protect your home from annoying cleanup chores after the storm. You can use them to prevent washed out areas in your landscaping as well. If you cannot move heavy sand bags around, try lightweight sand-free absorbent sacks.

Backup Lighting

You could have a whole-house generator powered by natural gas to have electricity to keep the lights and everything else on if a storm knocks the power out. However, that is an expensive option. Regular summer and winter storms can knock the power out, but it is usually just for a few hours or overnight. The big storms are a different story. For backup lighting to get you through either type of storm, solar lights can be a real benefit. No extra batteries are needed, and you just put them outdoors in a sunny area to charge during the daylight hours.

Build Permanent Shutters

Wailing winds accompany thunderstorms and blizzards. Both can wreak havoc with flying debris. Blowing branches, flying trash can lids and airborne plastic lawn furniture can smash a window, letting the rain in. If you are handy with woodworking tools, build real exterior shutters that can close over your window. Those decorative plastic ones are a great visual accent, but real shutters you make and install can serve the true purpose shutters were intended to provide, and they can look great from the curb when not in use.

Redirecting Redirected Downspouts

Many municipalities used to allow homes to direct rainwater from gutters into the primary sewer system. Population growth had many municipalities mandate that all such connections be redirected. Many homeowners utilized all kinds of makeshift designs to direct their gutter water to the street. Some redirecting efforts were better than others. Take a look at where the water from your downspouts goes. You may be able to prevent everything from landscape washouts to wet basement walls simply by redirecting where your downspouts empty. Flexible pipe makes it easy to redirect rainwater from downspouts.

Minimal Power Generation

If you have frequent power outages that last longer than 24 hours but are generally shorter than 48 hours, portable power generation can save your refrigerated and frozen groceries. It can also power a window air conditioner, a fan and even the blower motor on a forced-air furnace in the winter. If you have transportation to a gas station outside of the region normally affected by your local storms, gas powered generators are okay.

Keep in mind that when your power does not work, the fuel pumps at local gas stations do not either, and storing gas for long-term use is not a good idea. Diesel can be stored longer, and propane even longer. Plus, there are portable generators that can be quick-connected to a natural gas outlet installed outdoors. Working into your budget things to help you be prepared for normal seasonal storms for your region give you a leg up on preparations for those more extraordinary storms where you can still wisely choose to shelter in place. A DIY spirit and some ingenuity can help you and your family better weather any storm that comes your way.

 

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