Storm Damage – What to Do in an Emergency
The Philadelphia area experiences its fair share of storm damage. Along the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers and around our many creeks, flooding is a frequent problem. Heavy rains and snowfall are not uncommon, causing trees to fall and ice to damage houses and utility lines. And although hurricanes and tornadoes are rare, they can happen – in 2021, seven tornadoes ripped through Philadelphia and surrounding areas in one night, leaving several people dead, homes torn apart, and once-in-a-century flooding in some areas that caused extensive damage. Preparation is your best defense. Prepare your family and your home before a storm hits.
Home and family preparedness
In this area, damage can come from high winds, driving rain, lightning strikes, flooding, hail, snow, and ice. Keeping your house and property in good repair can limit the damage when storms hit.
Evaluate your home for flood risk. Neighbors who have lived in the area for a while are a great resource. How often does it flood? What have they done to protect their own homes? If you’re in a flood-prone area, be sure to carry flood insurance on your homeowner’s insurance policy. This is usually an add-on that you need to request and is only available in certain areas.
Suggestions for protecting your home from storm damage:
- Seal your basement walls with a waterproof compound.
- Have a professional look for areas around the perimeter of your home that could be entrance points for water and create a plan to correct them. Common problem areas are basement windows, sliding glass doors, and landscaping that slopes toward the house.
- Elevate your furnace, water heater, and electric panels to a safe distance above the ground. You may also wish to elevate storage units or use waterproof storage containers at ground level.
- Have your home inspected for loose roof shingles, flashing, sliding, or gutters.
- Trim back large branches that are near your home and remove dying trees anywhere near your property.
- Inspect electric lines to ensure they are not entangled in branches, and if so, have tree branches around your lines removed to decrease the risk of the lines coming down in a storm and creating an incredibly dangerous situation.
Suggestions for protecting your family during a storm:
- Outline a safety plan with your family. In this area, we rarely need to evacuate, but it’s a good idea to have a family phone chain, meeting place, and emergency exit plan mapped out, just in case.
- Prepare emergency supplies in a waterproof container: a first aid kit, any medications the family members take, 24-48 hours’ worth of water and easy-to-eat food, flashlights, battery-operated AM/FM radio, extra batteries, thermal blankets, personal care items and toiletries, duct tape (because you never know when you’ll need it), rope, an extra set of car keys or house keys, copies of important identifying documents, some cash, a local map, and a deck of cards or other small games.
- If a storm is imminent, fill bathtubs, sinks, and jugs with clean water. Keep your radio tuned to local weather for updates or evacuation instructions.
After the storm
After a storm, the safety of your family is paramount, your property secondary. Keep your family safe and away from any fallen power lines, downed limbs, or flooded areas. Contact your utility companies, and if there is flooding, electric lines and gas lines need to be shut off.
Storms in our area frequently knock out the electricity. This means that if you have a sump pump, it will likely go off and will not be able to pump out any water that may enter your basement. This is why we recommend you elevate your furnace, water heater, and electric circuit board. Do NOT go into a flooded area unless you know the electricity to your house has been shut off. Stay away from the circuit board even if the floors are wet. Be sure to call an expert electrician if you suspect water damage anywhere near electric circuits.
If your roof or walls have been damaged, you may need to evacuate your home. Contact the police to let them know that your home is not secure (especially if the damage is on the first floor where looters could easily enter). Call a respected renovation and repair company as soon as possible to put up some protection against further elements (and thieves) until a more permanent repair can be made.
Protecting your home from storm damage
At M&K Renovations, it’s important to us to help our customers protect their homes from damage before the “big storm” hits. We will come out and inspect your home for any obvious safety concerns and create a plan to help correct the problems so you can decrease the likelihood of major repairs after a storm hits. We are certainly a great choice to call after storm damage occurs, but we would prefer to prevent it. Give us a call today at (610) 353-2895 for a free evaluation.