Over the past month, severe weather has left an impact in many places. British Columbia has faced many wildfires, Germany experienced flooding on huge scale, and a tornado touched down in Barrie, Ontario. While these events are not commonplace in Durham Region, smaller scale events can still cause problems. We’ve gathered a list of ways you can help protect against these risks to stay safe when strong weather moves in.
Start off by inspecting the roof (from the ground) of your home to ensure everything is in good condition. Loose shingles will be the starting point of bigger problems. If maintenance is needed, there’s no time like the present. Windows can be protected by storm shutters, a worthwhile addition if your home is particularly exposed to winds on a regular basis. There are also window films that can be applied to prevent the glass from shattering. Finally, make sure eavestroughs and downspouts are in good condition and well-secured.
Next, focus on the area around your home. Inspect trees and monitor their condition. Some species are more susceptible to wind damage, so be sure to know what kind of trees you have.
Look around your yard and secure loose items. Where would you put your patio furniture and BBQ if a storm is coming in? Is your fencing in good shape and well secured?
Looking to landscape? Consider replacing decorative garden pebbles with softer material like mulch. Believe it or not, gravel can get picked up by high wind events and cause serious damage.
As we’ve seen in news about wildfires across Canada, this force can be devastating. Fighting these fires takes huge resources and specialized training, and in the event you face the reality of a wildfire, listen to your local authorities and be ready to evacuate if so ordered. At the individual level, there are measures you can take – often around prevention and safety in the event of a fire – that can help prevent the devastation caused by fires.
In your home, make sure smoke detectors are in good shape. Fire departments recommend checking them when you change your clocks in and out of Daylight Savings Time. Maybe you’d prefer to set six-month reminders on your calendar. While you’re at it, check your fire extinguishers, and if you don’t have any, get some – one on each floor of your home, and one in the kitchen.
From there, keep appliances in good shape and inspect cords and wiring regularly, replacing any damaged wires. If you use natural gas or propane for heating, cooking, or a fireplace, have that system regularly inspected and maintained. The same goes for wood stoves and fireplaces. Keep your dryer lint-free and check the ducting to be sure no material is building up – there’s a reason some campers make fire-starters out of lint. Clean and inspect your BBQ on a regular basis and move your grill away from your home when using it. Shut off the propane tank when you’re not using it.
Make sure you have a safety plan. Fires can move fast, and you and your family may need to leave your home. Have an emergency kit – the Canadian Red Cross has a checklist to help you make sure you don’t miss anything.
Water damage can come in storms, but unlike the other two above, can also develop slowly over time, making it a tricky one to manage. Water will find the smallest crack and work its way into your home. Your biggest asset will be having a watchful eye and good attention to detail.
As with the above, regularly inspect your home from the top down. Make sure the roof is in good condition and check that eavestroughs and downspouts are all free flowing. all windows and doors to confirm caulking is in good condition. If any needs to be replaced, be thorough. If some of it has become old and isn’t properly sealing, much of it will be in the same condition.
Is your landscaping helping or hindering keeping water out of your home? Slopes, surfaces, and the underlying soil all influence how readily water is absorbed and kept out of your home. If this is an ongoing problem, get expert advice on how best to address the root of the problem.
No matter what…
Be sure to review and understand your insurance policy to know what’s covered, and how to make sure you’re ready in the event you need to make a claim. Document the contents of your home with photos and for any expensive items keep multiple copies of receipts or appraisal documents. Make photocopies of other important documents and keep them in a few different places including at least one place outside of the home.
Remember that for all the advice above, the key is to repeat these steps on a regular basis. While rarely exciting tasks, consider this time spent as protection and peace of mind should the unthinkable take place.