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December 23, 2013

5 Ways to Prepare for Natural Emergencies

When living in areas prone to natural disasters like floods or hurricanes, keeping your home prepped for emergencies will help you save time and money in the long run. Here are five ways to simultaneously prepare your home and protect the environment against traumatic natural events.

HURRICANE KATRINA New Orleans

Aftermath of New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina, via greenmannowar on Flickr.

1. Check your trees.

Trees are natural tools for soaking up water and retaining soil, which can be especially important for flood areas. But they can be also be hazardous during strong storms. Trees on your property should be properly monitored and maintained. During heavy rain storms, tree debris could fall around and on your house, possibly causing damage. Well-trimmed trees and shrubs are also more wind resistant. Making sure that your trees are properly trimmed and dead branches are removed can minimize damage.

Tree Casualty After Storm

Tree Casualty After Storm by bellivep on Flickr.

2. Clear your rain gutters and downspouts.

Rain gutters and downspouts are huge contributors to rainwater pollution. Make sure these are clear, as it helps efficiently direct and drain water properly. Do not forget to check that the drain’s basins and caps are not covered with debris, like leaves, twigs, and dirt. The water will build up and flood the area if the drain is not cleared properly. You can also add rain gardens to help soak up more water and naturally clean pollutants out of them, helping your home and the environment.

3. Bring in your outdoor items.

While you prepare the outside of your home, you should also protect it, your neighbors, and the environment by bringing in outdoor items. This includes lawn chairs, bicycles, children’s toys, garbage cans, and garden tools, to name a few examples. These items become debris that can get picked up and thrown by tornados, hurricanes, or severe winds. Not only do they pollute the environment, but they can hurt people and cause damage to more homes.

4. Elevate any key materials.

There are things within your house that should be elevated in the event that a flood does break through, besides your important documents. Be sure to elevate household chemicals, as they can be hazardous for your home, family, emergency responders, and the environment when they are compromised by a flood. In general, avoid stockpiling dangerous materials, or only have small amounts of them on hand. Other things that should be elevated include your furnace, water heater, and electric panel.

5. Prepare supplies.

If you have to shelter at home during a store, be prepared to take care of you and your family without certain resources, like electricity. Items like hand-cranked flashlights are great savers of energy (since they do not require batteries) and can be more reliable than battery-powered flashlights. Solar powered garden lights can also serve as great indoor alternatives to your regular lamps. Choosing eco-friendly alternatives for preparing your home as a shelter helps keep you and your environment safe.

hurricane IKE (17)

Flooded playground photographed by Eric Dung Le.

As we know from recent natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Typhoon Haiyan, preparation is important for our home’s safety and security. But as the climate change commissioner from the Philippines passionately warned, climate change has a great impact on why these disasters happen with tremendous destruction. The best preparation comes from protecting the environment.

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Posted by Mark Contorno.

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