Protecting Your Home from Disasters
A natural disaster such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, or fire can make a home more difficult to sell, especially in a buyer’s market. Homeowners can’t completely remove the risk disasters pose, but they can take certain steps to protect their homes. Whether you plan to sell your home in the future or not, use these tips to protect the value of your home:
1. Follow basic fire safety recommendations. Smoke and flames can create lingering problems in homes. To reduce the risk of a minor or major fire, install smoke detectors throughout the house and test them once a month. Keep in-date fire extinguishers around common fire hazards including your kitchen, and laundry room.
Monitor lit candles closely, and never place them near flammable materials or where someone could easily knock them over. Teach your children to safely handle matches, candles, and other fire-related objects.
2. Maintain adequate homeowner’s insurance coverage. If a disaster does strike, your policy will determine how much support you receive after the fact. You may want to consider a flood policy if you live in a flood-prone area, because most standard homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage. Read the fine print and ask questions. The right level of insurance can protect your home’s value in the wake of a disaster.
3. Recognize your home’s vulnerabilities. The FLASH (Federal Alliance for Safe Homes) website features an interactive map to help homeowners understand the major risks in their states. Use historic weather information and forecasts to arm your home against serious storms.
Invest in risk-minimizing upgrades such as storm shutters to reduce the likelihood of damage related to high winds and hail. If you need to replace siding, roofing, or garage doors, choose storm-resistant materials. Consider applying additional waterproofing substances and moisture barriers in low-lying areas such as basements to reduce flood damage.
4. Remove external hazards. Tall trees often pose a threat to homes during heavy snowfalls and high winds. Work with certified arborists to prune or remove hazardous trees. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, regularly remove dead leaves, dry grasses, and other flammable materials from the area around your home.
Prepare for the most likely disasters before they strike, so you can focus on your and your family’s safety when the time comes. With these tips, your home may avoid some or all the damage associated with disasters.
If your home does suffer harm in a disaster, remember to document all the damage and your repair work. Documentation can go a long way to protect the value of your home.