How to Prepare Your Home for Natural Disasters

What keeps you up at night? If you’re anything like most Americans, death, illness, global conflict, mass shootings, and financial troubles top your personal fear list. One universal threat may, however, have escaped your attention — natural disasters. 

Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and blizzards fail to rank among Americans’ top fears. That chilling fact means millions are unprepared for the very emergency most likely to affect them. 

Extreme weather events led to 492 direct and indirect confirmed deaths and caused over $92 billion in damage in 2023 — the worst year on record. What are you doing to protect your home and family? 

You know the drill. If you only start prepping when everyone already knows trouble is on the horizon, you’re too late. Save yourself the horror of panic-buying for leftover supplies you don’t know how to use. Start preparing now.

Discover the critical steps you can take to protect your home, huddle up to survive extreme weather, or evacuate in a pinch, but remember that survival tools should always go hand-in-hand with skill-building.

  1. Assemble a 72-Hour Emergency Kit

Emergency kits that can get your family through the next three days without power or essential services and also get you ready to evacuate at short notice should include:

  • At least three gallons of water, or one gallon a day, with the option of a water purifying system to use if you have to evacuate.
  • A compact whistle to attract attention.
  • Non-perishable foods like MREs, energy bars, canned foods, and dried fruits.
  • A flashlight. 
  • A thermal blanket.
  • Duct tape. 
  • A utility knife or multi-tool (for family members old enough to handle them responsibly).
  • A basic first-aid kit, including relevant prescription medications. 

This list assumes that staying home is your first choice, but you’re ready to evacuate anytime. Store important documents and a solid amount of cash somewhere where you can grab them at a moment’s notice. 

  1. Essential Steps to Protect Your Property 

The basic steps you take to secure your home can minimize damage and help keep you safe, but every disaster calls for a unique approach. Print off this checklist so you always know what to do — but remember, checking your emergency kit should be part of your to-do list regardless of the nature of your threat!

  1. Hurricanes and Tornadoes
  • Shutter or board up your windows. 
  • Take planters, grills, and other outdoor items that could become projectiles inside. 
  • Turn off any propane tanks.
  • If recommended, shut off your power by switching your main circuit breaker to the off position.
  • Shelter in the basement or a safe room.
  1. Earthquakes
  • Secure heavy pieces of furniture to the wall, place heavy objects in a safe room you avoid entering until after the threat passes, or lay tall, heavy furniture items like bookshelves flat on the floor. 
  • Place breakable items, like glassware, on flower shelves or on the floor.
  • Turn off gas and electricity, and consider investing in automatic shut-off valves if you live in an area vulnerable to earthquakes.
  • Identify your emergency exits and ensure they are clear.
  1. Floods
  • Elevate electrical appliances and other important items above flood levels.
  • Turn off the gas and electricity as instructed.
  • Use sandbags to protect your property from floods. 
  1. Wildfires
  • Clear the vegetation around your property to create a defensible space.
  • Remove any combustible objects from your yard.
  • Have spark arresters installed on your stovepipes and chimneys.
  • Close all your windows.
  1. Winter Storms
  • Insulate exposed water pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting — and turn your water supply off if that is not possible.
  • Seal drafts however you can. 
  • Keep your house warm and have alternative heating sources ready.
  1. Communications

We tend to take communications for granted in this hyper-connected world, but an act of nature can change that in a heartbeat — just when it’s most essential to receive incoming emergency communications from the relevant authorities and attempt to reach your loved ones!

Never assume that your internet connection, TV, or smartphone will keep working, and prepare by investing in the right equipment:

  • Hand-crank radios don’t rely on electricity to work. They allow you to receive FM and AM signals, giving you access to the emergency broadcasting system and NOAA Weather Radio frequencies. 
  • If your area has completely switched to DAB+ radio, invest in a separate DAB+ radio, too.
  • Invest in a large power bank with a capacity of 20,000+ mAh to ensure your devices keep working even in the face of extended power cuts.

Don’t forget about “old-fashioned” communication methods like signal mirrors, flare guns, controlled fires, and predetermined meeting places, either! They can save your life and help you find your loved ones during a weather disaster.

  1. Long-Term Prepping Steps for a More Robust Home

Long-term home upgrades can make your home more resilient during natural disasters or off-grid scenarios — but they also represent significant investments. Let’s take a look at the options to consider, depending on the threats you face in your area.

  • Hurricane-resistant roof straps that minimize risk of tear-offs.
  • Impact-resistant windows to protect your home and family against flying debris.
  • Reinforced doors to withstand winds and offer protection against wildfires.
  • Solar panels for off-grind situations and monthly savings.
  • Home (inverter) generators to offer a power source in survival situations.
  • A rainwater-harvesting system or well for continuous access to non-potable water.
  • Elevated foundations and retrofitting measures to safeguard your home in seismically active areas.
  • Fire-resistant landscaping to protect against wildfires.
  1. A Final Word

Protecting your family lies at the core of your desire to prepare your home for any emergency Mother Nature can throw at it. There’s no doubt that arming yourself with the right tools can save lives and minimize property damage, but prepping is about so much more than “stuff.”

It is just as essential to train for the worst and foster friendly, productive relationships with your neighbors. Your home may be where the heart lies, but people should always be a central aspect of your preparedness process.