Ed Del Grande has been helping homeowners with a wide variety of home improvement projects for more than 30 years. He is a master contractor, nationally syndicated columnist and author of House Call, a do-it-yourself home improvement book. Del Grande has assembled his top seven tips to help homeowners prepare for storms, power outages and other emergencies.
1. Assemble a dedicated storm box or bucket. If you are not told to evacuate, having items on hand like batteries, candles, matches, flashlights, AM radio, water, and even extra cash can be useful if your area loses power. If told by officials to evacuate your home, leave well in advance. Make plans for a safe route and destination where someone will be expecting you at a predetermined day and time.
2. Create a storm to-do list. This list reminds you of the important things you need to do before the storm hits. Things like getting prescription drugs, filling propane tanks, going to the bank, and filling your car with gas can be essential.
3. Compile a list of important phone numbers. Essential phone numbers to have on hand can include: utility companies, insurance company, bank, doctors, radio stations and local police. Also, have at least one hard-wired landline phone in the house.
4. Protect your chilled and frozen food supply. Before the storm hits, pack your most commonly consumed items like milk, cold cuts, and leftovers in a cooler with ice. Turn your refrigerator/freezer settings to the highest levels to chill remaining food as much as possible. Keep your refrigerator door taped closed to prevent unnecessary opening during a power outage.
5. Store water if you are on a well system. Store plenty of drinking water in clean containers. Also, store water in your bathtub so you can flush the toilet with a bucket of water when needed.
6. Inspect your basement sump pump system before the storm. During a major storm, heavy rains can flood your basement, so make sure your sump pump is plugged in and fully operational. Inspect the pump switch float ball on your sump pump to make sure it’s operating smoothly. Also, make sure the drain line is not blocked and extends at least four feet away from your home’s foundation. Finally, get a battery backup for your sump pump in case of power loss.
7. Look into an automatic standby generator system. A standby generator is permanently installed outside your home and hooks up to existing gas lines (propane or natural gas). If power is lost, a standby generator will automatically start up and restore power to your home. It can power lights, heating/cooling systems, refrigerators, sump pumps, home security systems, computers and more. With the addition of a standby generator, most issues you face during a storm can be eliminated.
For more information about standby generators, visit KohlerGenerators.com. The site offers educational videos, sizing calculators and a list of professionals in your area who can assess your needs.