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Hurricane Preparedness | Joaquin Gains Power

Ready for Hurricane Joaquin? Larry and Sons can help! (301) 733-5428

With heavy rains already pouring down on us, and more expected throughout the weekend, it’s a good time to revisit safety concerns for heavy storms and rainfall.  Hurricane Joaquin has already brought quite a lot of rain and is expected to do so throughout the weekend.  Even if it doesn’t make landfall, the heavy rains and wind can cause significant damage to your home.  Joaquin will cause several storms across the Eastern US as it passes, which will lead to severe flooding.  Right now, hurricane preparedness should be your top priority, regardless of whether or not the main storm will hit the area.  Don’t be caught unaware.

Prepare your home in the event of a hurricane

Image Source: The Weather Channel

Prepare for Storms and Potential Flooding

Waterproofing your home is the first step.  You want your roof to be in good condition, so take the time to get it inspected and repaired.  For the short-term, clear your rain gutters and drains to promote water flow away from the home.  Make sure that your storm doors, windows, and basement are all properly sealed against the storm.  Widespread flooding in the streets can still have a negative impact on your home but these small preparations will mitigate some of the danger.

Installing a sump pump in your basement can save you a lot of heart-ache in the future.  Designed to rest in the lowest part of the home (where flood waters will start to accumulate first), the sump pump pushes water out and away from the home.  Most sump pumps are tied directly into mainline electricity to power them.  We highly recommend installing a battery backup or connecting your sump pump to an emergency generator to keep it running in the event of an emergency.  Sump pumps are your mainline defense against in-home flooding.

Maintaining current flood insurance is the last line of defense against costly repairs and replacements.  Even the best preparations in the world can’t overcome the ravages of a storm at times.  A sump pump can fail during a particularly heavy storm, or may even fail to keep up with the flow of water.  In these cases, separate flood insurance (which is usually not bundled with standard home or renters insurance) will cover the cost of damages from water.  This is your last line of defense because, if you’re calling on insurance, damage has already occurred and it’s time to go into repair mode.

Of course, if you believe that flooding is going to be an issue, it’s best to prepare your home as best you can and then evacuate to a safer location before the storm arrives.

  • Prepare an emergency kit
  • Shut off electrical power
  • Clear gutters and drains
  • Ensure proper operation of your sump pump
  • Relocate expensive or irreplaceable items to a higher floor

Inspect Your Sump Pump

In advance of the storm (and ideally before the rainy season starts) you should inspect your sump pump to make sure it will operate properly and wasn’t damaged in previous storms.

  • Make sure it is still plugged in and will have power. Have a licensed electrician inspect the breaker box to make sure the circuit is undamaged. Test the battery backup and recharge or replace it as necessary.  If you’re backup is based on an emergency generator, make sure that generator has sufficient fuel to operate.
  • Check the position. The pump should be standing upright.  Pumps vibrate during operation, which can shift the location of the pump.  Make sure any submersible pumps haven’t shifted positions to the side or to a location where the inlet may have become blocked.
  • Clean inlet and outlet of the pump. The outlet pipes need to be tightly joined together so that there are no leaks.  Water needs to move unimpeded from the inlet to the final outlet which should be at least twenty feet from the foundation of the home.  Test your pump by running water through it to make sure that water is actually being pumped away from the home.
  • Look for warning signs. Are there any strange noises, smells, or sights when your pump is running?  Make sure it doesn’t need to be replaced.  Make sure that there isn’t any oil in the sump well either, as this can indicate a failed pump seal.
  • Double check the activation switch for the sump pump. When water flows in you want to make sure that the switch will turn on.

The easiest way to test you pump is to simply pour water into the sump well.  This should trigger the pump to start and, if everything is in order, water will flow out of the exit pipe outside.

Prepare Emergency Supplies

Prepare for the worst by putting together an emergency supplies kit.  FEMA has put together a complete list of recommended and additional emergency supply items that you should have already accessible before a storm starts.  Your kit should include:

  • Water – one gallon per person, per day, for at least three days
  • Three days of non-perishable food
  • Battery powered or hand-crank radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, plastic sheeting, and duct tape for shelter and contaminated air
  • Moist towlettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to shut off utilities
  • Can opener
  • Local map

During hurricane and storm seasons it’s never a bad idea to keep a go-bag on hand and ready.  This would include basic toiletries (toothbrush and soap), first aid kit, a change of clothes, cash, identification, local map, batteries, flashlight, and a phone charger.  In the event you need to move quickly, you won’t need to prepare, you can simply grab the kit and get away.

Practice Hurricane Safety

Hurricane Watch – conditions are threat within 48 hours.  Stay informed and be ready to act if a hurricane warning is issued.

Hurricane Warning – Expected within 36 hours.  Complete preparations and evacuate or be prepared to evacuate if advised to do so.

Hurricanes are large-scale storms with the potential for heavy damage to property and a huge risk to life.  Do not take a chance, if you’re advised to evacuate, you should do so immediately.  Ready.org has an excellent timeline of preparedness for hurricanes.

When preparing for a hurricane, follow everything that’s been advised for rains and heavy storms.  You should also make sure that you stay advised by keeping a radio, TV, or webcast live and active in case an emergency evacuation or storm-level warning increase is announced.  Protect your home by sealing and reinforcing windows, doors, and the roof to protect them from excess damage.  Secure all outdoor objects and fixtures.  If there are loose items, bring them inside to prevent them from being turned into dangerous projectiles in high-winds.