The biggest problem with natural disasters is people's lack of preparation. The fact is that disaster can strike at any moment — and, often, we have warnings about it.
For example, there was an excessive heat wave that once struck the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. Even though forecasters warned people about the upcoming record-breaking heat, the Los Angeles Times reported 70 deaths in Oregon alone.
Whether you’re forewarned or not, preparation is the key to minimizing the damage caused by any kind of natural disaster.
In this post, you’ll learn how to prepare your home and property in case of emergencies and natural disasters and how you can keep your families and loved ones safe.
1) Prepare Emergency Plans
Emergency planning includes preparations before, during, and following a disaster.
A significant part of developing an emergency plan is preparing an emergency kit that contains food, important documents like social security cards, medicine, and other items like extra batteries, a radio for communication, and more.
Of course, you can customize the contents of your emergency kit based on your family’s needs. You might also consider items like rope and tarp, which could help to protect your property from damage or loss.
Disaster preparation usually includes the following steps:
- Set up a place where family members must converge if you get separated due to the disaster.
- List down emergency contacts pre-programmed in your family's mobile phones.
- Ensure you are aware of your town's evacuation routes and designated storm shelters.
- Learn where your home's water, electricity, and gas feeders are located and how to turn them off.
- Choose a destination plan with your family if you have to evacuate.
- Check what your insurance policy covers in the event of a disaster.
Keep in mind that different disasters cause different types of damages. Therefore, each type of disaster requires a unique plan to help you better prepare how to keep your family and property as safe as possible.
2) Protection from Heat Waves
Heat waves are occurring more frequently and for more extended periods in major cities across the United States.
During the 1960’s, there would be about two heat waves across the U.S. every year. By 2010, we’ve seen that number rise to six per year, with an increase in the duration of these heat spells to an average of 47 days.
According to this study, 46 out of 50 metropolitan areas studied experienced statistically significant increases in both frequency and length, while 44 cities had an increased duration of heat waves from 1980-2005.
The urban heat island effect is worse in cities than in rural areas because there are more buildings, and the traffic releases plenty of hot air. This contributes to the rise in surface air temperatures, which makes heatwaves much more severe and common.
When it comes to your lawns, high nighttime temperatures will continue to expose your property to heat stress. This prevents them from the cool nighttime temps required to relieve themselves from the daytime heat.
In preparation for heat waves, you can:
- Identify nearby cooling centers during extreme heat to prevent your family from heatstroke.
- Install green roofs to reduce the urban heat island effect.
- Plant trees to provide shade on your lawn or home.
3) Protection from Hailstorm
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the frequency of hail claims rose by 2%, from 832,377 to 849,033 between 2018 and 2020.
There were 34% more cases of destruction from hailstorms during that time, and these occurred most often in the late spring/early summer months.
Studies also show that states like Texas, South Dakota, and Kansas experience the most hail events in the country.
Although the scientific community remains unclear as to why these storms are gaining momentum in frequency, the damage they cause to homes and properties can take weeks to clean up.
Here are a few ways to protect yourself from the effects of hailstorms:
- Cover your plants with a hardware cloth supported by lumber to form a hail guard. Gardeners often used these structures to protect plants from hail and frost as well as insects and pests.
- Get rid of dead branches around your property. The hailstorm might cause them to break loose from the tree and cause greater damage on not only your lawn but also your home.
- Install window shutters to prevent the glass from breaking and getting the shards all over your home and property. As an additional safety precaution, close your blinds and curtains.
- Use hail and impact-resistant roofs for your home. They cost more than regular roofs, but they keep property damage to a minimum. Plus, you could get an extra discount on your property insurance.
4) Protection from Earthquake
Like heatwaves and hailstorms, earthquakes in the central US have increased over the past decade. Between 1973-2008, there was an average of 25 earthquakes in the area.
Since 2009, this number has increased to at least 58 M3+ earthquakes every year. This rate of growth peaked in 2015 with 1010 M3+ earthquakes.
Now, even though they’re not located in the Central United States, homes and properties in California are at particular risk because southern parts of the state are located on the San Andreas fault line, which is a zone notorious for earthquakes.
If you live in an area that’s prone to earthquakes, the destruction can be significant and long-lasting. Earthquakes can shake houses off their foundations, turn soil into liquid and cause landslides with one single movement.
To protect yourself and your home from the effects of earthquakes, plan to:
- Build a raised bed in an earthquake-prone area. This is the best way to ensure that your garden remains safe.
- Plant erosion control blends help strengthen the soil since the seismic activity of earthquakes can leave the ground susceptible to the effects of wind and water erosion.
- Secure fixtures, appliances, cabinets, and other movable objects in place, so they don't fall off and cause additional damage to your property.
5) Protection from Wildfire
Some parts of the country are more prone to wildfires than others. With its abundance of forests and warm summer temperatures, California is one such state.
From forest fires to residential blazes that can quickly turn into infernos, homeowners Californians are always on high alert for the potential danger of wildfires and the subsequent emergency evacuations that occur as a result.
The damage brought by California wildfires reached a staggering 4.3 million acres resulting in 10,500 structures destroyed and 33 people killed in 2020 alone. This happened to be the most acres burned by wildfires in one state within 12 months.
Your preparations for a wildfire can determine how much damage your home and property will incur.
For starters, make sure to replace wood-based fixtures in your home and property with non-wood materials. Since wood is a poor conductor of heat, it will set fire instead, which unfortunately helps spread the fire to other parts of your property.
While changing your roof into metal and your walls with stucco or fiber cement is a significant change, it's a small price to pay if you want to reduce the risk of your property going up in flames.
Additionally, you can plant and grow wildfire-resistant blends on your lawns from the start. Wildfire-resistant blends, such as Nature Seed’s Southwest Transitional blend, includes seed blends that naturally slow or stop the spread of wildfire. Furthermore, these seed blends are adapted to specific regions across the country.
For example, the Southwest Transitional blend includes:
- 25% Western Wheatgrass
- 25% Sandberg Bluegrass
- 20% Streambank Wheatgrass
- 20% Indian Ricegrass
- 10% Bottlebrush Squirreltail
Since studies show that Western Wheatgrass “is generally unharmed by fire,” this is a highly efficient and sustainable way to ensure you protect your home from further fire damage.
6) Protection from Hurricanes
Hurricanes are some of the most devastating natural disasters.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) a hurricane can bring torrential downpours and winds sustained at 74 miles per hour. The hurricane season takes place from June 1 to November 30 in the Atlantic and May 15 to November 30 in the East Pacific.
Among the hurricane hot spots, Miami, Cape Hatteras, and North Carolina, have the highest risk of being hit by the tropical storm at 48% from the same NOAA page above. New Orleans follows suit with a 40% risk.
Lots of expensive and deadly hurricanes have hit America in the last 20 years. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 remains the costliest storm that happened during this period, with 1,833 lives lost and $172.5 billion worth of damage.
To prepare your property for hurricane damage, adhere to the following tips to protect your home and property from this natural disaster:
- Begin by having an inspector check the stability of your foundation and landscaping for any potential changes that need to happen.
- If you live in hurricane-prone areas, you need to be on the lookout for hurricane warnings from the National Weather Service. The NWS also issues watches that alert you of potential incoming hurricanes.
- Prepare an evacuation kit containing drinking water, clothing, food, and first-aid supplies. It should also have a battery-powered weather radio that is essential to keep you updated on the latest forecasts when the power goes out.
- Board up your windows before the storm comes. If you don't have shutters, use plywood sheets to board them instead. Make sure they're cut correctly before a hurricane warning hits so that when it does get here, your home will be safe from damaging winds and heavy rain.
7) Flood Protection
Year over year, flooding continues to grow as a natural disaster problem in the United States.
According to the insurance claims submitted by the National Flood Insurance Program’s records, Eastern states like Rhode Island, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Florida witness more floods, which means more damage.
On the west coast, Washington experiences its share of rainwater flowing into rivers and then crashing onto coastal areas. And states like California, the risk of flooding combines with the destruction caused by earthquakes, which can trigger mudslides surging residents inland.
The fact is that only a few inches of water caused by floods can destroy your belongings and equipment, leading to significant damage that you might not even know about until it's too late.
To prepare your property from flood damages, the first thing you must do is get flood insurance. It should provide you coverage over physical losses due to flooding and erosion caused by the flood.
Cleaning your gutters is another simple way to keep your home from flooding, especially during a storm surge.
When gutters get clogged with leaves and other debris, water will collect around your foundation and basement, especially if you live on a slope where rainwater naturally collects downhill towards your house. Worse yet, the water collects on your garden and drowns your garden plants and lawn.
To mitigate this, you can connect exterior downspouts from your gutters to rain barrels. These heavy-duty attachments capture and redirect the tropical storm runoff away from your home's foundation to protect it against flooding.
More importantly, you can use the collected water for different purposes around your yard, like watering plants or filling up an outdoor pool. Just make sure there is even ground where you will place the barrel, so it doesn't tip over once filled with 55 gallons worth of weight from rainfall.
Finally, consider installing a sump pump on your yard or property. These machines are set up in your home's basement, and they can help you get rid of the water collecting in an area of your home. Sump pumps will turn on automatically when they reach a preset level, which prevents severe flooding.
8) Treating Damaged Lawns and Garden
There's only so much you can do to prepare your property for natural disasters. While the precautions above can significantly minimize the impact of these disasters, expect to incur damages to your property nonetheless.
Once the disaster subsides, and the damage has been done, it's time to get back to work by recovering your plants and grass to their previous beautiful state.
If your yard’s soil was exposed to erosion, try adding a good soil mixture to the disturbed areas. You can also work in organic compost and slow-release fertilizer into the soil to restore the nutrients that heavy rainfall or strong winds may have washed away.
Next, trim off and compost stems and plants that have been damaged beyond repair. This is a great way to give your garden the extra nutrients it needs without planting new plants. Leave slightly damaged leaves on salvageable plants, as they’ll need these for future growth.
Finally, if you have property adjacent to wetlands in the area, consider planting restoration blends. These vegetative blends include grasses, sedges, rushes, and forbs that help protect shorelines from waves and floods. These varieties also absorb pollutants in the water, supporting native animal and insect species in the area.
Preparing for a natural disaster takes forethought, planning, and an understanding of what your specific state is prone to — whether that’s floods, hailstorms, earthquakes, hurricanes, or a combination of these.
For your family, preparedness comes down to packing the essentials, communicating an emergency plan, and installing implements that protect your home in the event of an evacuation.
For your lawns and backyards, the best offense is also your best defense. Plant seeds and blends that are weather-resistant and require little to no maintenance. These varieties perform well in locations with the highest disaster events and help minimize the losses in your property.
To learn more about strategies to restore lands and protect them from the erosive destruction of natural disasters, contact Nature's Seed today.