Pete Duncanson | ServiceMaster Restore
Extreme storms can do more than put a damper on beach day plans and outdoor activities; they can cause costly and long-term damage to homes. High winds leave homes vulnerable to damage from falling debris, excessive rainfall can lead to flooding, and lingering moisture can lead to mold-related health problems.
Ahead of a major hurricane or storm, the following three-part strategy can help reduce potential damage, expenses and inconvenience.
Prepare in Advance
Don’t wait for weather warnings to create an action plan. For instance, take steps now to fasten the roof to the frame of the home or building. Once severe weather is predicted, begin boarding up windows and ensure rain gutters are clear. Secure loose outdoor items, have a fresh supply of batteries and emergency supplies such as water, medication and non-perishable food. Take photos and make lists to document essential possessions. Make sure cell phones and other mobile devices are fully charged, and identify a safe location away from windows, doors and exterior walls where you and your family can seek shelter if needed. Finally, have a plan for post-event repairs, including phone numbers for your insurance company and professional restoration services that can help mitigate damages in a timely manner.
Assess Storm Aftermath
It’s natural to breathe a sigh of relief once you’ve weathered the storm, but don’t let your guard down. Debris, live power lines and electrically charged water are just a few potential dangers you’ll want to watch out for. Check for structural damage before re-entering the property. When possible, water cleanup should begin right away (within 24-48 hours) to avoid mold, rust and further damage. For instance, remove wet area rugs to prevent water seepage into drywall and discard damp, non-valuable items to help avoid potential mold contamination. Keep in mind, attempting “DIY” cleanup can cause more damage and lead to additional expense. To mitigate loss, contact a professional restoration company immediately.
Recognize Lingering Problems
Be on the lookout for mold following excessive rainfall or flooding. Mold needs wet conditions to grow and is most often detected by sight or smell. If you notice a musty smell in a room or area, remove any lingering wet items. Don’t rely on products that promise to kill mold, including bleach, as it only causes mold to go dormant. The only way to truly get rid of mold is to cut it out of an area – an undertaking best left to professionals to avoid costly damage, potentially spreading mold spores and inadequate cleaning.
Finally, here are a few additional reminders of things you do – and don’t – want to do to protect you and your family and home in the event of a dangerous storm.
- Don’t go outside. Thunder is often accompanied by lightning, which typically strikes the highest object. Avoid areas where you could be the highest object. When you hear it, avoid it.
- Don’t forget to clear away loose branches and debris from around your home or business. High winds can cause branches and debris to damage roofs and other areas of the building. Avoid standing near windows or doors.
- Don’t use electrical appliances, including the telephone, while at home during a thunderstorm. Stay away from the TV, sinks, radiators, stoves and small electric appliances such as radios, toasters and hair dryers.
- Have a preparedness plan for storms. Conduct regular storm drills with all family members and pets.
- Have emergency supplies for power outages (72 hours’ worth of food and water per person, and don’t forget about pets).
- Clear rain gutters, downspouts and tarp the roof to prevent leakage and water damage inside the home.
- Utilize surge protectors. Buildings struck by lightning often experience power outages and power surges that can damage electronic devices.
- Add grounding rods around your property to attract lightning away from your roof. Lightning tends to strike the highest object and grounding rods are a great way to divert potential lightning damage away from roofs.
- Keep mulch and gardens away from foundations. This will help ensure water doesn’t run into home and business structures.
- Consider investing in, and installing, an emergency generator.
- Unplug all electrical appliances if you are at risk for flooding.
- Call a professional restoration company with the experience, training and resources to restore your home and prevent additional damage.
Taking these simple precautions can help homeowners prevent severe damage. However, sometimes it’s just not enough. It’s important to know when to call the professionals, especially for tougher jobs, such as reconstruction work, water damage and mold removal. The stress of a weather-related catastrophe is enough to keep any homeowner up at night, so thoughtful preparation is key.