Do You Know the 8 MOST Important Property Prep Hacks? (Most Don’t!)

We all know how important it is to build an emergency supply.

But YOU are not the only thing that needs protecting in a disaster. Your home and property need protecting, too. How else are they going to keep you alive?

Plus, whether you live in an apartment, single-family home, trailer, or anything in between, you probably have items you hope to see after disaster strikes.

No matter what you face, these eight hacks will help you protect your property from devastating damage.

Hack #1: Move and Anchor Furniture

furniture in a room

In a natural disaster that rocks your home – and most do – ensuring that large objects stay put will go a long way toward keeping you safe. Here are the big items to take care of:

GET THE BIG STUFF FIRSTSecure large objects like water heaters, cabinets, and bookshelves with earthquake-proof straps and hardware. Elevate indoor furniture by stabilizing furniture legs onto cement blocks, piling pieces over one another, or moving them to a more elevated part of the house.

If possible, move appliances (like washers, dryers, furnaces, and water heaters) above flood level. Furnaces and water heaters can catch fire or explode when met with flood water. 

MOVE ON TO THE SMALL STUFF – Remove mirrors, pictures, and other hanging pieces from walls above couches, beds, and other areas where it’s possible they could become dislodged and go flying.

DON’T FORGET THE OUTDOORS! – Move outdoor furniture (like tables, chairs, kids’ toys, and decorative ornaments) indoors. Anchor items that cannot be brought inside (like sheds, swing sets, boats, trailers, and carports).

RELEVANT DISASTERS: Earthquakes, High Winds, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Floods

Hack #2: Fill Up on Fuel

red gas cans being filled

Most natural disasters will cut off your power, which is why so many preppers wisely purchase generators. However, to power your generators, you’ll need plenty of gasoline.

Fill up several containers with gasoline to keep your power up and running. Make sure you’ve topped off the tanks in your cars as well in the case of an evacuation.

It sounds simple enough, but storing fuel is one of the trickiest emergency preparation challenges. We’ve dedicated an entire article to how to do it – we recommend taking a long look.

RELEVANT DISASTERS: Any National Disaster

Hack #3: Guard Windows and Doors

man installing a storm window

Now on to strengthening the weak points in the structure of your home. If water or wind get in, it will likely come through windows and doors. Here’s how to reinforce them.

SECURE WINDOWS – Install storm-protection apparatuses on your windows. There are many options available, such as: security window film, storm shutters, plywood, high-impact glass, storm panels, or hurricane fabric.

SECURE THE GARAGE DOOR – Invest in a hurricane-proof garage door that can withstand high winds. If you don’t, you risk your garage door flying off and allowing wind into your home, which can rip the roof right off.

SECURE DOORS – Stack sandbags against all exterior doors to keep water out. Stack them at least one-foot high. You can also roll up damp towels and stuff them underneath and in front of doors. This will keep ash, dirt, and dust moved around by wind and wildfires out of your home. 

TOUCH UP WEAK SPOTS – If there are cracks or holes around any doors or windows, then wind, water, and other elements can find their way in and deal long-term damage. Fill these openings with caulk to close the gaps and prevent costly destruction.

RELEVANT DISASTERS: Earthquakes, Fires, High Winds, Tornadoes, Dust Storms, Hurricanes, Floods, Volcanic Eruptions 

You May Also Like: Wildfire Smoke: America’s Newest Natural Disaster

Hack #4: Clean Up the Yard

trees and debris fallen on fence

Keep your yard clean and free of garbage, debris, and items such as kids’ bikes and toys, lawn ornaments, potted plants, and other things that could easily be swept up and become projectiles in high winds.

If you have a landscaped yard, make sure to keep your trees, bushes, and other plants trimmed and clean. High winds can rip branches from trees and turn them into dangerous, hazardous debris. 

Foliage that’s left dead and untrimmed in dry climates can add fuel to a wildfire.

RELEVANT DISASTERS: Fires, High Winds, Tornadoes

Hack #5: Evaluate Your Insurance

man holding his hand over a miniature house

Take some time to review your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance regularly to verify what your policy covers. Are you protected from fire? Floods? Earthquake damage? Check to see what type of protection you need. 

If you don’t have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, consider purchasing a policy—especially if you live in an area where natural disasters are common. Having insurance won’t solve all of your problems when disaster strikes, but it will lessen the financial blow and reduce how much you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

SHOP AROUND – Make sure to shop around frequently to ensure you’re getting the best coverage and rates. Try bundling with other insurance policies you may have, like car and life insurance, to save even more money. 

KEEP DOCUMENTS SAFE – Store your insurance documents in a place that’s easy to access, like a safe, emergency kit, or file box. Laminate your insurance documents or store them in a place that will keep them dry and in one piece.

RELEVANT DISASTERS: Any Natural Disaster

Hack #6: Invest in Detection Devices and Disaster Tools

sump pump

Don’t do all your emergency preparedness on your own if you don’t have to. Invest in devices and tools that can help you detect when something is amiss.

WATER ALARMS – Place wireless water alarms under sinks and anywhere else a leak might occur.

SUMP PUMP – A sump pump alarm detects rapidly rising water levels, letting you know if a flood is possible. These should go in your basement (if you have one), laundry room, mechanical room, or anywhere else that could be especially impacted in a flood.

SHUTOFF VALVES – Get automatic shutoff valves for your water heater and washing machine. These devices allow your appliances to work when needed but will shut them off when not in use or when a leak is sensed.

FIRE ESCAPE LADDER – Make sure each room in your home—especially those above the ground floor—is equipped with a fire escape ladder. 

ALARMS – Ensure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly. Have a few fire extinguishers on hand.

RELEVANT DISASTERS: Any Natural Disaster 

Hack #7: Power Down

home circuit breaker

Power is critical, but during a disaster electricity, gas, or water can be released into your home in a dangerous way. Do the following to avoid electrocution, gas poisoning, flooding, and more: 

FIND YOUR SHUTOFFS – Identify and locate all water, gas, and electricity shutoffs in your home.

LISTEN FOR OFFICIAL ADVICE – When a natural disaster is on the way, local officials will often provide instruction regarding when to turn off these sources, particularly gas.

TAKE CARE OF ELECTRICITY – If flooding is anticipated, turn off electricity.

AVOID FLOODED AREAS – Do not walk into a flooded basement if the power is still on—or could turn on soon—to avoid electrocution and disastrous consequences. Do not use anything electric if you are standing in water, either.

UNPLUG APPLIANCES – Unplug electrical appliances if you lose power. This will prevent damage from a power surge, and it will save you money. 

RELEVANT DISASTERS: Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Floods, Heavy Rain

You May Also Like: 12 Ways to Survive a Flood

Hack #8: Let Water Flow

Man Cleaning Rain Gutters

Water wants to destroy your home! If you find yourself facing down a storm, rest assured that copious amounts of water will be flowing over and around your property. You can’t stop the water from coming, but you CAN prevent it from flooding or pooling. Create clear channels for water to move through.

UNCLOG GUTTERS – Clean and unclog your gutters regularly to allow water to flow away from your home and property more easily. Clogged gutters cause water to pool near your roof and foundation, causing cracks, leaks, and other water damage.

CLEAR STORM DRAINS – As water escapes from your gutters, it will head toward storm drains in the street. Before and during a disaster, ensure the storm drains near your home are clean, clear, and free of debris. This will prevent widespread water damage to your neighborhood and community.

BACKFLOW – Install backflow valves on your property to block sewage from flowing backward and into your home, a common occurrence with flooding. Not only is sewage coming up your pipes and into your home a smelly mess, it’s also a major hazard to your health and can cause serious damage to your property. 

RELEVANT DISASTERS: Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Floods, Heavy Rain

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