As human beings, we need a place to live. It is one of those things that provides us security: shelter. However, buying a home is a bit more than just buying a roof and some walls. Your home holds all your things, it is place where you can feel safe, and it’s a place to belong. Not to mention it is a refuge from emotional, social, and workplace stresses. However, though they shelter us, the homeowner, they cannot weather all things. There are many ways that a house can get damaged, the most drastic of which come from disasters (both natural and unnatural). For the most part, you can’t do anything to prevent a disaster from happening, but you can do a few things to prepare in case of one. These preparations may not protect your home completely from a disaster, but they can give it better chances. At the very least it will hedge your losses in case something does damage your home.
Before you begin though, remember that these tips and ideas that we are giving you are not meant to be foolproof. They can fail; they are only supposed to increase your odds. Your home can still be damaged in a disaster no matter how much preparation you do. That being said, if you decide to continue with these ideas, be sure to contact a professional to do any work you are not qualified or feel comfortable doing. If you do decide to do any work, follow any and all safety instructions.
1. Get Insurance
Insurance is something that every homeowner must have whether it is required by law or not. With insurance, you can hedge against loss if your home does succumb to a disaster. It will not save your home, but it will make the transition and recovery period afterward much smoother. To pay for the damages and to replace the things that are lost in a disaster you can get money from your insurance company. It will definitely help to get everything back in order when it is all said and done. You will want to sit down with your insurance agent and talk with him or her about what all is covered in your policy.
Before you go in to talk with the agent though be sure to do a little bit of research. Find out what the most likely disasters are in your area so that when your policy is put together you can see to it that they are included.
2. The Danger of Floods
Disasters come in many varieties, but there are none as universal as the flood. It doesn’t matter where in the world you live, you can be victim to floods. Floods can come without notice and in a matter of moments leaving massive destruction in their paths. With that said, let’s talk about preparations. Even if you live in the driest of deserts or on the tallest of hills, you need you to prepare. Let’s look at the two main kinds of floods that you need to be worried about as a homeowner and how you can prepare for them and minimize your loss.
When we say an external flood, we are talking about what most people think of when they hear the word flood. These are floods that come from outside of your home. They can be caused by flash floods, swollen rivers, broken dams, and so on. No matter what they are caused by, however, there are a few universal techniques you can use to keep your home safe.
The best thing to do is to buy a home that is not in a flood plain. You can determine where the flood plain in your town is by asking someone down at the planning department of city hall. They can show you exactly where the water would most likely flow in the case of a flood. If you can’t avoid living in a flood plain, try and find a home that is on a bit of a hill, or at least is higher than the road or the surrounding properties. Since water follows the path of least resistance, the higher up you are the less likely your home will be overtaken by water.
An internal flood is a flood that happens when there is a problem with your plumbing. They come from inside your house. There are many reasons why your plumbing can flood your home, so the best solution is to have them inspected by a professional. You should have your plumbing checked at least once or twice a year to make sure there are no issues.
Now, you should also make sure that your pipes never freeze as well. We will get more into this when we get to the section on cold weather prep, but it’s sufficient to say that you don’t want them to freeze.
Lastly, make sure to find the master switch for your house's water. This is a big switch that allows water to flow into your home. If there is a problem and your house starts flooding you can go and turn that off and prevent any more water from coming in.
3. The Danger of Fires
Fire is a dangerous thing— but you don’t need us to tell you that. A fire can completely destroy your home in a matter of a few moments even in the coldest of months. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or the country, on the icy tundra or the hottest desert, your home can fall victim to a fire leaving you in a worse situation than if a flood came through.
Fires that come from the outside are external fires. They can be fires that jump from a neighbor’s home, a nearby brush or forest fire, and so on. These are not necessarily the most common fires, but they are a threat. One of the best things you can do to protect your home from an external fire is to not build it too close to a forested area, large brush, or another home. If you aren’t building a home, but rather buying one, then you should look for homes that aren’t too close to these things.
Now, we know this isn’t always possible, but there are a few other things you can do to increase your odds. One of these ideas is to move any plants (trees included) away from your home. You can still have landscaping, but by moving as much of it as you can away from your home you are making it less likely for your home to get burned since there will be less material to catch fire.
The next thing you need to prepare for is a fire that starts from within your home. There are many reasons why your house might catch fire internally. However, one of the biggest threats to a house would have to be its electrical system. If a house has an outdated system it can quickly catch fire. To combat this you should have your electrical systems inspected by a professional electrician on a regular basis. The frequency of necessary inspections will be different from house to house, so it is hard to say how often it needs to be checked—contact a professional for more information on inspections.
Then, once you have that squared away, set rules for your home about the use of open flames. Limit the amount of open flames that are used in your home by getting rid of appliances, when you can, that use flames instead of electrical heaters; getting candle warmers so you aren’t tempted to actually light a candle, and so on and so forth. Make sure that any open flames are extinguished the moment they are no longer being used to minimize the possibility of a fire spreading.
Disasters can strike at any time and each disaster is different. That is why these are not meant to be bulletproof methods. Keep learning and keep talking to professionals for more ideas on how to protect your home.