Wherever you live in the country, you are never 100% safe from natural disasters such as fire, rain, or harsh winds. And, in Southern California, we face all of these potential disasters. While we cannot prevent these from affecting us, what we do know is that taking precautions against potential damages is easier and cheaper than paying for repairs.
Here’s a quick guide to getting your home in tip-top shape and ready to face anything in any season.
“Harden” your home to prevent wildfires
October is Fire Safety Month, so it’s a great time to make your home more fire-resistant. We suggest starting with your roof. Flying embers can potentially destroy homes up to a mile away from a wildfire, and the roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes with wood or even shingle roofs are at higher risks of being destroyed, so consider building or re-roofing yours with fire-resistant materials such as metal, tile, or composition.
- Vents create openings for flying embers. Cover all vent openings with 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch metal mesh and avoid using fiberglass or plastic mesh. Also, protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to block any embers, as mesh in this case is not enough.
- Heat from fires can cause windows to break even before the home ignites, which allows for embers to enter and also start fires inside. We suggest installing dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of this happening.
- When it comes to any walls in your home, build or remodel them with ignition-resistant materials such as stucco, fiber cement, wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood, or any other approved materials.
- Screen in or clean out rain gutters to prevent plant debris accumulation.
- Make sure to cover your chimney and any stovepipe outlets with non-combustible screens.
- Have at least one fire extinguisher ready to go and tools such as a shovel, rake, bucket, and hoe available for any fire emergency.
- When it comes to water supply, consider having multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach all areas of your home and other structures of your entire property. If you have a pool or well, consider getting a pump.
- Maintain your landscaping and clear dry brush or dead foliage. Look into planting high-moisture plants that grow close to the ground and have a low sap or resin content, such as ice plant or aloe.
Fire prevention tips and suggestions provided by readyforwildfire.org.
Protect your home from water and storm damage
Water damage is one of the most common and costliest disasters that can happen to your home. Although Southern California does not experience as much rain as other parts of the country, that can actually create more problems when we do experience heavy rain, because most homes, roads, and businesses are not as equipped to handle the extra rainfall.
Here’s a rundown of what you should check for when prepping your home to protect it from rainfall or faulty internal plumbing:
- When it comes to your most prized, personal possessions, nothing is too “outrageous.” Store off-season and other bulk belongings in waterproof bins and on shelves, away from floors, especially in areas such as basements and attics where plumbing pipers are prone to dampness.
- Repair and protect your home’s exterior by caulking and sealing windows, inspecting your roof, checking on your downspouts, sprinklers, and irrigation systems, as well as installing gutter guards.
- Keep your yard tidy and free of gardening tools, toys, and debris that might get carried away by excess water.
- Understanding how your indoor plumbing systems work is key. Inspect appliance hoses, faucets, showers, tubs, making sure they are watertight and reseal if necessary. Install an emergency pressure release valve to protect against increased pressure caused by freezing pipes, which can also prevent pipes from bursting.
- If going away on vacation, shut off all water supply, especially to the washing machine. Never leave the house while the washer or dishwasher is running.
Water damage prevention tips provided by budgetdumpster.com.
Strong winds can also be devastating
High winds may have just as much impact on your home as any of the situations above, especially when we are experiencing strong Santa Ana winds. Consider the following to protect your home from strong winds:
- Look for potential threats such as broken fences, a crumbling roof, or even consider moving any trees that may be dangerous in case of high winds. The cost of moving a tree, and any other threat, is much less expensive than having to repair potential damages. If removal is not needed, have your trees regularly trimmed and maintained.
- Keep your appliances grounded. This includes patio furniture, barbecue grills, sporting equipment, and even your garden shed. These items should be anchored down by being bolted to the ground with cables or chains, or move them inside when you know winds are expected, if you can.
- Cover doors and windows by installing steel or aluminum storm shutters if you think you need more protection. This is to protect them from shattering in case flying objects hit your glass, or bursting open if they are hit by strong gusts of wind.
- Ensure your roof is secure and repair any known damages when signs of potential storms come your way.
Wind damage prevention tips provided by weather.com.
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