Take action when you hear a hurricane watch, says
Lopes. Secure your home. Take inside items that "could become
missiles" during high winds, he says. That includes trash cans,
lawn ornaments, patio umbrellas and doghouses. Remove anything loose
that could be torn off in a storm such as flapping gutters and loose
shutters. If you're good about maintenance, especially keeping dead
branches and trees trimmed, this is when it will really pay off.
Have some sort of plan with the
neighbors so that if someone's not home, you can help secure that
home too, especially when it comes to flying lawn debris.
"Your neighbor's trash can won't discriminate
in where it might hit," Lopes says.
While you can probably protect
your home from the wind damage, water is another matter.
"The greatest danger from
a hurricane is surge, a dome of water that causes flooding for many
miles inward," says Lopes.
The good news: hurricanes typically
have long warning periods, so you'll have plenty of time to evacuate
if you pay attention. The bad news: your home's best protection
is your ability to replace it and your things if damaged by water.
Get insurance and make sure you have flood insurance.
"Storms can intensify and
change direction rapidly," says Lopes. If there is a hurricane
in your region, stay apprised of its movements and when the authorities
recommend evacuation -- clear out.
Basic rule of thumb: if you live in an earthquake-prone area, bolt
down everything you can. But start by getting earthquake insurance.
Second, earthquake-prone areas will have special housing codes.
Make sure yours is up to snuff and keep it maintained.
Some other things you can do:
- Put childproof latches on your
cabinet doors. This prevents the shaking from dumping, and breaking,
your valuables. If you have delicate objects or collectibles to
showcase, keep them on lower shelves. To keep books and valuables
secure on shelves, put a screw to the left and right of each shelf
and run string or elastic across the front to act as a barrier.
- Arrange bedrooms so that there
is nothing near the bed that could fall onto it, especially mirrors
and bookcases. Consider securing bookcases to wall studs with
- Have a plumbing or heating professional
install flexible fittings on all gas appliances, from the hot
water heater to the stove and the oven. "It provides room
for the equipment to shake," says Lopes.
- Strap the hot water heater to
the wall studs to keep it from tipping during a quake, says Lopes.
You can purchase perforated metal tape from a hardware store,
says Lopes, who recommends wrapping it twice around the heater
and bolting it to the wall studs (while being careful not to block
any of the vents, the gas meter, the gas opening or the thermostat.)
And before you buy a home in an
earthquake zone, have it inspected both for prior quake damage and
to make sure that it's properly bolted to its foundation. "Once
a home comes off its foundation, it's uninhabitable," says