Tips to be prepared for hurricanes and winter storms
Blog Summary: SERVPRO discusses in detail the various steps to take in preparation for a storm and how the SERVPRO helps in storm restoration services.
Preparation is the best defense
Hurricanes are accompanied by storm surges and inland flooding, which have historically been the number one and two causes of loss of life. As a result of high winds and water from a storm surge, homes, businesses, and crops may be destroyed or damaged, public infrastructure may also be compromised, and people may suffer injuries or loss of life.
Additionally, hurricane-related hazards don’t disappear when the weather clears. There is an aftermath that lasts for weeks and maybe even months.
- Before the storm - Prepare
The best way to combat a storm is to be prepared with an emergency plan before disaster strikes. SERVPRO suggests some Hurricane and Tropical Storm Emergency Preparedness tips in the event of a weather-related disaster. These can protect human life as well as property.
Build a basic emergency supply Kit
A basic kit should be stocked to supply each of the family members with water and food for at least three days. Consider including food for pets, as well as any necessary medications in the kit.
- Water (one gallon/person per day)
- Three-day non-perishable Food supply
- Manual Can Opener
- Battery-operated radio, preferably an NOAA Weather radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First Aid Kit Whistle (to signal for help)
- Local Maps Important Documents, such as copies of Insurance Policies, identification, and Bank Account information Matches (in a waterproof container)
2 . After the storm surge
Storm surge could be life-threatening. If the water does enter the structure through the flooding of a creek, stream, or river, or if it has filtered through insulation during its intrusion, it is considered to be black water and could cause health effects. Here are some dos and don'ts suggested by SERVPRO until the disaster recovery team arrives:
- Avoid contact with contaminated items as much as possible.
- Take the greatest caution while entering the property.
- Wear sturdy shoes and protective clothing when dealing with flooded areas.
- Do not attempt to operate any electrical equipment while standing in wet or damp locations.
- Throw away all foods—even canned goods—that have come into contact with floodwaters.
- Remove and prop wet upholstery and pillow cushions for drying.
- Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.
- If the property has a crawlspace, beware of excess moisture that can foster mold growth in that area.
These are precipitation that is mainly snow, sleet, or freezing rain. Often coupled with strong winds and below-freezing temperatures, winter storms can be dangerous.
Before the storm - Prepare
- Weatherproof the property - During the year, checking and maintaining the property would prove worth the effort and enable a prepared response:
- Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so the water supply will be less likely to freeze.
- Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Insulate walls and attic.
- Install storm or thermal-pane windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
- Repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on the house or other structures during a storm.
- Get chimney or flue inspected every year
If a fireplace or wood stove is expected to be used for emergency heating, make sure the chimney or flue is inspected yearly, without fail. The local fire department can make a recommendation or one can be found online.
- Install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector
- These two gadgets must be installed near a fireplace, wood stove, or kerosene heater if there is a possibility of the heating to be used. The gadgets must be tested monthly and the batteries must be replaced twice a year.
- Keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby.
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside.
- Every winter, get the furnace system and vent checked by a qualified technician to ensure optimum functioning.
- Keep a thermometer indoors
A human body’s ability to feel a change in temperature decreases with age and therefore an easy to see thermometer can be very handy. Since older adults are more susceptible to health effects caused by cold, check the house temperature often during the winter months.
- Prepare the car
Traveling is best avoided but in emergencies, the car must be ready. Therefore the following steps must be taken:
- Get the vehicles serviced as often as the manufacturer recommends.
- Get the radiator system serviced or check the antifreeze level with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze as needed.
- Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
- Replace any worn tires and fill low tires with air to the proper pressure recommended for the car
- Keep the gas tank almost full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Keep the car in good working condition. Be sure to check the following: heater, defroster, brakes, brake fluid, ignition, emergency flashers, exhaust, oil, and battery.
- Create a car emergency kit
- Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
- Items to stay warm such as extra hats, coats, mittens, and blankets
- Windshield scraper
- Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Water and snack food
- First aid kit with any necessary medications and a pocket knife
- Tow chains or rope
- Tire chains
- Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
- Cat litter or sand to help tires get traction, or road salt to melt ice
- Booster cables with a fully charged battery or jumper cables
- Hazard or other reflectors
- Bright colored flag or help signs, emergency distress flag, and/or emergency flares
- Road maps
- Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
- Tune in to weather forecasts, and check supplies.
Listen to weather forecasts regularly and check emergency supplies, including emergency food and water supply, whenever a winter storm is expected. Weather forecasts provide several days of notice to prepare.
- Bring the pets indoors
If pets can’t be brought inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they have access to unfrozen water.
These steps must be followed until help arrives. When a storm damage restoration company like SERVPRO arrives, the highly qualified technicians will assess the damage and create a report. Based on this report, technicians will be appointed to deal with water, fire, and mold damage besides any requisite building and cleaning services.
- SERVPRO uses state-of-the-art equipment to bring the damaged property back to its original state. SERVPRO of Lakeway / Westlake is always updating its fleet and equipment so clients in Lakeway, Westlake, or anywhere else can quickly access the services.
- With over 1,700 US and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to respond faster to an emergency of any magnitude.
- The SERVPRO staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. They receive initial in-house training and constant skill up-gradation at the corporate training facility and also acquire the regular IICRC-industry certification.
For storm restoration services, call SERVPRO® of Lakeway/Westlake today at (512) 261-4790.