Before the Storm - Prepare
Finalize your complete home inventory. Have a list, photos or narrated video of the items along with their value, model numbers and where / when you purchased them. Store in a protected place and consider storing a back-up list as well.
Create a “take” box. Make it sealable and waterproof and include important documents—originals and/or photocopies as necessary. You may also want to consider an external hard drive with backups of important files, your home computer contents, pictures and videos.
Secure loose outdoor items. They can take flight during a storm becoming potentially harmful projectile objects. This includes loose gutters and downspouts, yard debris and diseased, damaged tree limbs. Take note of garbage cans, planters, potted or hanging plants, outdoor décor, patio furniture and grill. Secure them or move them inside the garage or other protected space.
Maximize fridge / freezer efficiency. Set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings and leave the doors shut. Consider cooking all of your raw meats and freezing them to help keep other food cold for extended periods and to provide meals that don’t require cooking after the storm. Put all of your ice cubes into plastic freezer bags and fill in all spaces in the freezer. You can freeze water bottles, too. Similarly, stock as much water in your refrigerator as possible to not only provide water in the event of contamination but also to retain the cold temperature.
Use your bathtub as a water reservoir. Fill it and other large containers with water for cleaning and flushing toilets. One full bathtub can provide enough water for about three days!
Have a plan and communicate it. Create your family emergency plan and make sure that all members of your household understand it. It may include how to contact one another, where you will go, contact information for relatives and close friends, meeting places, doctors, pharmacies, medical insurance details and family members’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and important medical information. Evacuation plans need to consider the best evacuation routes (keep a paper road map!) and emergency supply kit to go.
During the Storm – Stay Safe
Stay protected. The key to riding out a storm is staying safe throughout. So, stay away from windows and glass doors. Depending upon the severity of the storm, you may want to create a safe room on your lowest level in a small, interior room, closet or hallway.
Switch from fire power to battery power. Extinguish candles as the rain and winds begin so that fire is not fanned by drafts. Use battery-powered flashlights instead (make sure you also have plenty of batteries).
After the Storm - Protect
Inspect your home. As early and as safely as possible, perform a thorough home inspection and detail any damage. Take lots of pictures. Take a look at your foundation, roof, walls, doors, floors, staircases and windows. Watch for loose plaster, drywall and ceilings as well as broken glass. Include a water damage inspection. Check for stains, discolorations or distortions like warping or cracking in surfaces inside and outside of your home. Inspect walls, ceilings, window frames, cabinets, fixtures, floors and doors. If you evacuated and are returning home after several days, do a sniff test for musty odors. When the weather clears and if feel you may have water damage, open windows and doors to begin to ventilate and dry out your home.