The summer of 2013 will likely be remembered as the summer of extremes. Floods, heat waves and fires have put millions of Americans on alert. And hurricane forecasters are predicting an active season.
With all of the devastation caused by storms this past year, many homeowners learned the hard way that a little preparation can go a long way to minimize the damage. Of course, there are some situations where we have no control over the elements, but in other cases, these few preventive steps could significantly lessen storm damage to your home and, perhaps ultimately, save your life.
Prune your trees
While one can never predict which trees will come down in a storm, good tree management can make all the difference. Make sure to prune your trees now in case strong winds and more rain come rolling in.
• Thin canopies. Since tree damage usually occurs due to high winds, take some of the weight out of the tree canopies. This is work for a qualified arborist. Less density in the canopy allows wind to pass through branches and leaves more easily. An arborist will be careful not to take off too much growth. Trees need their leaves for food production and strength.
• Remove threatening branches. Make trees that lean toward the house a primary concern.
Improve grading and drainage
Making changes to the grading on a property to improve drainage is perhaps the most overlooked property management tool. Think of drain lines as the arteries in your body. You want a good, well-distributed system with good flow. Just like blockages in your body, blockages in drain pipes can lead to problems.
In heavy rain, one inch of rain in half an hour cannot be absorbed by the ground in urban and suburban environments. Without a good drainage system to take away this water, it sits there soaking the ground and weakening the roots of your trees significantly. The the wind can knock down even big, strong and otherwise healthy trees.
Take a step-by-step approach to improving your property’s drainage over time. First, study your property after the next big rain event and make an assessment.
• Where does water pool?
• Is there a pitch or topographical change on your property?
• Be sure the grading of your land does not trap water.
• Dig a deep hole at the bottom of a slope far away from any structure (including your neighbors’) so the water has somewhere to temporarily go. Fill the hole with crushed stone.
• Have your existing drainage lines cleaned out now in preparation for the upcoming storm season. There are companies who clear your drains. This is a must-do storm preparation.
• Older drain lines are likely made of clay. This means that over time tree roots can grow into them, blocking the flow of water. Drain installation companies have cameras they can snake through your drains to see what’s going on inside them. Given today’s intensified storms, drains should be examined every two to three years.
Other tips to weathering storms
• Consider a permanent generator. Past storms have resulted in extensive, multi-day electrical outages across the East Coast. Temporary generators to run a refrigerator and a few lights are an option. However, given the frequency and length of outages, many homeowners are ready for a more extensive, permanent generator, which supplies the house automatically during outages.
• Make sure recovery financing is readily available. Consider getting a home equity line of credit for home improvements and other lending options. This can help you rebuild quickly if you do sustain damage.
• Extend your credit line on your credit cards. This should be easy if you have good credit.
• Protect your intellectual property in the cloud. You’ll be able to access your data and programs over the Internet. Cloud computing can be done anywhere, any time. If you leave your area to stay with family or friends in a different location, you won’t have to worry about losing your essential data. It’ll be easily available wherever you go.
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