One early evening last July, a 4-minute freak storm passed though my town. I am in Upstate New York mind you, with almost zero risk for tornadoes… but there were ridiculous wind gusts that lasted only 4 minutes and left half of my city without power for a week – including my house. My brother lost half his roof, and 2 gigantic maple trees in my in-laws' backyard were felled. Just last week (11 months later) we finally finished cleaning up their backyard from the storm.
Thank God no one was hurt. But financially? Yeah. A lot of people were hurting there, including my relatives.
You might not think of storm preparation as a top frugal tip. But it should be! If you're not prepared in any way, then you could wind up paying A LOT of money if a storm damages your home. Even if insurance covers the loss – you still have a deductible to pay. What if some easy preparation could have prevented the loss in the first place?
Here's the thing – basic preparation can be easy and cost literally nothing. If you want a step by step plan on how to prepare your home for a storm, read about how to get ready for a storm in 20 days.
Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for the next storm:
1. Damage Prevention
Obviously you can’t prevent a storm. However you can take some simple (and often affordable) steps to minimize the fallout from these storms. One of the greatest fears we face during a storm may be ice or wind damage to our homes. Maintain your landscaping to try to prevent problems before they occur.
Keep your shrubbery trimmed and healthy, remove dead branches. Monitor the trees surrounding your homes. Any tree can be a victim of wind, but dead or weak trees are much more susceptible to breaking due to the wind. Keep trees from getting too close to your home, trim back branches that get too close.
It is essential that you have a good plan in place for ensuring a reliable water source. You should be prepared to fill up any jug, bucket, or other item you have to house water. But don't overlook the biggest asset in your home. Your bathtubs and sinks are great places to store water. Consider purchasing an Emergency Drinking Water Storage Device. Please note that this device only stores water. In a sudden emergency where your water gets cut off you may not be able to use it unless you filled it previously. Should an emergency situation arise or you get forewarned of horrible weather, it might be a good plan to fill it up in advance.
3. Don’t rely on battery operated devices
Let’s be honest, how many of us check to see if the batteries in our flashlights are still good? How many of us stock a never ending supply of fresh batteries? If you’re like me, neither of these things are a certainty. Combine this with an unplanned power outage and it’s just asking for trouble. No one really wants to scramble in the dark to try to find a light.
Find light sources that are not battery or electric dependent. There are flashlights that do not need batteries, they only need to be shaken or have a handle turned in order to light them. This is a much better bet than counting on your batteries to still be good. And buy them now, BEFORE you have an emergency. The one pictured above is a solar and hand crank powered flashlight, radio, cell phone charger and beacon – and it's only $27!
Tip: Try to keep at least one flashlight in each of the rooms you typically frequent, plus one in any of your darkest areas. To make sure you can FIND the flashlight consider using glow in the dark paint, tape, or something similar so that it will glow when the power goes out.
4. Food Supplies
Okay, we've all heard about different types of food you should have on hand for emergencies. I mean, let's face it, eating is a huge priority. Here's something to keep in mind, make sure your emergency food supplies are not contingent upon other resources. You may not have ample water, so even though many recommend dehydrated or freeze-dried food, keep in mind you might not be able to use that.
Something else to keep in mind, canned food can be a GREAT resource because it stays good for so long. However, even if you have a propane cook stove or a grill, you may not have propane. Or worse, your equipment might fail. Keep in mind that to safely use propane grills and camping stoves, they need to be properly vented. So having some canned food on hand might be nice but try to think of other things. For example, protein granola bars might be a good option. They come in many flavors and are often good for long periods of time. They do not require any preparation other than unwrapping. How much simpler can you get?
When planning your food supplies keep in mind the nutritional needs of your family. What does your family need? A granola bar might not be a good option for your young child, try to think of things that they can eat. Consider stocking some Pedialyte (or another drink with electrolytes) or keep vitamins on hand. In an ideal world you wouldn't need to live off your stash of emergency supplies for too long, but it's better to be safe! Also, don't forget to stash food for your pets as well.
5. First Aid and Medical Supplies
In case of an emergency it would be very handy to have all your medical supplies together in a kit that you can bring with you. Disinfectant and Band-Aids are important, but try to consider what else you might need in an emergency. Don't forget an emergency supply of essential medications. This is particularly important if a family member suffers from epilepsy, heart issues, or other serious conditions. Try to set a reminder for yourself (maybe on your phone?) so you can switch these doses out as they age so that they are hopefully not expired should you need them.
Also consider including ice packs (the kind you break to activate), numbing gel, cough drops, and even something to settle an upset stomach. You will be grateful that you have these supplies handy in case of an emergency!
Thinking outside the box when it comes to storm prep can safe you a lot of stress and even money. What do YOU do to prepare for storms?
This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held insurance company, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.