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81 Severe Weather Survival Tips Every Homeowner Must Know

When severe weather strikes, theres no time to think. Thats why you need to prepare for the worst NOW, before youre faced with an emergency.

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Have a Plan

Have a Plan

The time to prepare for severe weather is when there isn't a cloud in the sky. Take a few minutes and put together a family survival plan. It'll help keep your loved ones and your home safe. For more in detail information about what you can to right now to prepare for a storm click here.It is also important to create an essential phone numbers list and store in a safe, readily available place. Create your ownhere.

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Severe Weather: Hurricane

Severe Weather: Hurricane

Hurricanes can change direction and intensity very quickly. Stay tuned to local radio and TV stations for updates.In the case of a Hurricane:
  • Listen to radio or watch TV for weather updates.
  • Locate Storm Readiness Kit. Clickhereto learn what to include and how to prepare your own.
  • Gas up your vehicle, in case of an evacuation notice.
  • Fill gas containers for generator. Store in a safe place. Learn more about emergency generatorshere.
  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools, andanchor objects that cannot be brought inside. Learn how to prepare your yardhere.
  • Clear your yard of debris.
  • Review evacuation plans.
  • Install storm protection devices such as shutters. Brace entry doors andgarage doors.
  • Anchor your boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Learn howhere.
For more in-depth information regarding what to do in the case of a hurricane click here.

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Severe Weather: Flood

Severe Weather: Flood

Each year, flooding claims more lives than any other kind of severe weather. Watch weather conditions and evacuate if needed in the occurrence of a flood to keep your family safe.In the case of a flood:
  • Locate Storm Readiness Kit. Plan yourshere.
  • Fill sinks, tubs and buckets with water. This water can be used for hygiene.
  • If you have a well, seal it to keep out silt and debris.
  • Shut off electricity at your main panel, if the floor beneath the panel is dry.
  • Attach rigid foam insulation or plastic sheeting around the outside first floor walls. Water will get in, but most of the silt will be kept out.
  • Be ready to leave on short notice if evacuation is required.
If the notice to evacuate is given learn more here.

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Severe Weather: Tornado

Severe Weather: Tornado

In the case of a tornado, flying and falling debris is the biggest danger. If there is immediate danger from a tornado or severe thunderstorm:
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Take cover immediately. Go to the basement or thecenter of the lowest level of your home. Bring your Storm Readiness Kit with you or it may be blown away by high winds. If no basement is available, get underneath something sturdy, like a workbench or heavy table, crouch down and cover your head. Under a stairway is also good.
  • Cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
  • Bring a radio with you to your place of shelter so you'll know when the danger has passed.
  • If you are caught outdoors and no shelter is available, crawl into a ditch, depression or culvert and cover yourself, protecting your head. Stay away from trees and cars, which may be blown on top of you.
  • If you're in a vehicle, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of the path of the tornado by driving at right angles to it. Otherwise, park your car quickly and safely, off the road. However tempting, don't park under bridges,which can cause a traffic danger while giving you little protection.
For additional information, visit spc.noaa.gov and search on tornado safety.

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3 Storm Kits

3 Storm Kits

Every family should have a Storm Readiness Kit. Here are suggestions for how to make three kits: basic, upgraded and ultimate. Make sure all family members know where the kit is stored.The Basic Kit: this stormkit will getyour familythrough48 hourswithoutelectricityand basicservices and help you deal with storm- related emergencies.The Upgraded Kit:If youd like to feel more comfortable about your ability to survive a severe storm and you have the resources, consider an upgrade of the basic storm kit. The upgraded kit will help you throughthree to four dayswithout electricity and other services.The Ultimate Kit:If you live in a remote area, care for an elderly or physically challenged child or adult, or if you simply want maximum preparedness, this is thekit for you. It will help you throughone weekwithout electricity and basicservices, or through catastrophic conditions.For more in-depth lists for what to include in your Storm Kit click here.

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Emergency Car Kitstockfotoart/Shutterstock

Emergency Car Kit

Having an emergency kit in your car is smart. Even in mild weather, you can get stranded or stuck, and when a storm hits, your kit could be a life-saver. Learn what to include in your kit here.

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Severe Weather Safety Tips

Severe Weather Safety Tips

Here are our safety tips for storms, fires and floods:
  • If you're wet, barefoot or standing in water, don't use anything electric or try to plug in power cords.
  • If you're working outdoors or in an area with any dampness, use GFCI-protected outlets or extension cords.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Don't walk in a flooded basement if the power is still on or could go on.
  • Turn off the hot water heater (electric or gas) if there is any chance of flood.
  • Avoid using candles. If a fire starts, there may be no phone service, the fire department may not be able to get to you, and fire hydrants may not be working.
  • Don't ever use a charcoal or propane grill in the house.
For more storm safety tips click here.

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Protect Your PetsFamily Handyman

Protect Your Pets

Protect your pets during severe weather. Learn what to do before storm season, when the storm hits and what to include in an essential storm kit for pets. Click here for an in-depth list.

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Emergency PowerHarbor Freight

Emergency Power

A home generator can keep your refrigerator running, plus lights, microwave, air conditioners, TVs, computers and cell- phone chargerseven the washer and dryer. And in the aftermath of a storm, it will allow you to run circular saws and other power equipment. It can make a huge improvement in your ability to comfortably weather a power outage, and quickly recover from a storm.There are two basic types of generators to consider: stationary and portable.To learn more about what type of generator is best for your needs click here.

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Prepare Your YardFamily Handyman

Prepare Your Yard

It is important to prepare your yard in the case of severe weather to avoid high repair costs and irreversible damage. Your yard takesa beating when severe weather roars through. To learn more about the steps you should take to prepare click here.

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Tie it Down

Tie it Down

You've probably seen the photos of plastic drinking straws driven into telephone poles during a hurricane. If high winds can do that to a straw, think of the damage they could do with a lawn chair or grill cover. When severe storms are brewing, its critical to batten down the hatches.Click here to learn what to tie down and how to do it.

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Storm Shutters for Doors and WindowsMarquisphoto/Shutterstock

Storm Shutters for Doors and Windows

Shutters are your best defense against high winds and flying debris.Removable shutters or panels attached to permanently installed bolts are a durable and economical solution that works with most windows and doors. After the first use, when the shutters are cut to size and bolts are set, these types of shutters can be installed and removed very quickly.Permanently installed shutters are the most expensive option, but are convenient once theyre in place, and may qualify you for a discount on homeowners insurance.To learn more in-depth information about the specific types of storm shutters click here.

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Strengthen DoorsDavid Papazian/Shutterstock

Strengthen Doors

In high winds, doors are a weak point, especially their frames and hardware. Click here to learn how to reinforce them.

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Reinforce Your RoofFamily Handyman

Reinforce Your Roof

A properly constructedroof in areas subject to high winds has trusses attached to walls with hurricane tiedowns, properly nailed sheathing, and heavy-duty shingles. These are usually accomplished during a complete re- roofing. (Consult your local code officials for details.) However, even if you're not planning a total re-roofing, there are do-it-yourself measures that will helpkeep the water out and the roof intact.To learn what steps you can take to reinforce your roof click here.

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Strengthen Your Garage DoorFamily Handyman

Strengthen Your Garage Door

Few old garage doors are built and installed well enough to resist high winds and flying debris. When weak doors fail, a domino effect can take place, leading to failure of the garage walls and roof. The best way to deal with weak doors is to replace the door with a new, code-approved model. In lieu of replacement, there are several ways to strengthen an existing door.Learn how you can strengthen your garage door yourself here.However, if your door is made of lightweight materials, replacement is your best option.

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Caulk and Seal

Caulk and Seal

Caulking is a quick and inexpensive way to keep rainwater and storm surge out of your house and strengthen vulnerable areas from high winds. Learn which spots to caulk and seal on the exterior of your home here.

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Get Your Home Ready for Floods

Get Your Home Ready for Floods

You don't need to live in the Mississippi Delta to be at risk for flooding. Heavy rains, melting snow and inadequate drainage can also inundate a home with water. In fact, 25% of flood insurance claims occur in low-to-moderate risk areas.Learn what you can do to get your home ready for floods here.

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A Safe RoomFamily Handyman

A Safe Room

When severe weather strikes quickly, evacuation may be difficult. In these situations, many experts say the best place to head is a safe room.A safe room is a freestandingstructure with walls and roof built of materials capable of withstanding the impact of falling and flying debris. They're also the logical place to store yourStorm Kitand other supplies.Safe rooms are designed to be independent of the house structure and are securely bolted to a concrete basement floor, ground-level slab or outside pad. They can be made from reinforced poured concrete, concrete block, welded steel or multiple layers of wood, steel and fiberglass.Learn safe room basics here.

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Storm-Tough Building Products

Storm-Tough Building Products

Installing storm-tough components while remodeling isn't only safety-smart, it's dollar-smart too. Why?
  • Many storm-tough products are alsoenergy efficient products, helping reduce utility bills in the long run.
  • Although the materials may be more expensive, the labor to install them is often no more than to install standard products.
  • Most products, because they're built to stand up to the elements, have a longer projected lifespan.
  • Many insurance companies offer discounts to policy holders installing storm-tough materials.
Learn more about storm-tough shingles, roofing, gutters, siding, windows, doors and garage doors here.

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Prepare Your Home Checklist

Prepare Your Home Checklist

Did you know? Most hurricane damage is caused, not by wind, but water entering the house from leaks, broken windows, flood water, storm surges and back- flowing sewers.Plan your storm readiness improvement projects with this master list found here.

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After the Storm

After the Storm

After a storm, stay safe, help others and record the damage. Visit our "after the storm" master list here, which includes advice for what to do after a rain and wind storm, flooding and the best supplies for recovery.Quick tips for recovery:
  • Dont return to severely damaged buildings until advised to do so. There may be structural damage that makes the building unsafe to enter.
  • Help a neighbor who may require special assistance: the elderly, people with disabilities and large families with young children.
  • Take photos of the damage for your records and save samples of spoiled floorings and furnishings to show to your insurance claims adjuster.
For additional informationvisitLowes.com/hurricaneandredcross.orgInformation for this post was made in collaboration with Lowes for a severe weather guide.

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dripping water faucetiStock

Water Outage

First off, be sure to store your water supply in a cool, dark place. Heat and sunlight can degrade water quality. Plus, go check out these 40 first-time homeowner pitfalls to avoid!

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plastic water pails 5 gallon bucketFamily Handyman

Food Safe Containers

Store water in a food-safe container. Water doesn’t have an expiration date, but it can become unsafe to drink if it’s not stored properly. For long-term storage of large quantities of water, food-grade plastic is the gold standard. In a last-minute stock-up for short-term storage, the gold standard changes to anything that’s clean. In this case, use a method of purification if there’s any suspicion that your water may be unsafe to drink.

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water storage containersFamily Handyman

Specialized Water Storage Containers

Consider specialized water storage containers, such as the WaterBrick ($35 each). Made for potable water or food, these food-grade containers have a tight seal and stack like blocks for easy storage.

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water bottles water outage storageFamily Handyman

Don’t Store Plastic Water Containers Directly on a Concrete Floor

The chemicals used in concrete not to mention oil spills on a garage floorcan leach nasty chemicals into your water supply, giving it a bad taste or making it unsafe to drink. Store your plastic containers on cardboard or on a wooden pallet.

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store water in a tub bathtub water shortageFamily Handyman

Store Water in a Tub

Buy a water bladder to put in your tub. The WaterBOB ($35) holds 100 gallons of water for drinking. Just set it in your tub, wrap the spout around the faucet and fill it up.

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gallon of waterLightField Studios/Shutterstock

Make Sure You Have Enough Water

Store 1 gallon per day per person. The length of time you want to plan for is up to you. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends a two-week supply for each person. When you consider all water use flushing, showers, hand washing, dishes, laundry, teeth brushing and outdoor wateringthat’s a LOT less water than we typically use daily. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that we use an average of 80 to 100 gallons of water per day per person.

To avoid as many sticky situations as possible check out these10 hazards you haven’t thought of at home.

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water cistern water storageKsander/Shutterstock

Water Cistern

For serious water storage, consider investing in a cistern. It’s very costly, but youll be able to store anywhere from 200 gallons to thousands of gallons of potable water.

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Stainless steel drum container water storagemontego/Shutterstock

Food-Grade Stainless Steel Drums

Food-grade stainless steel drums are excellent for water storage because they don’t let in UV light. On the downside, a 55-gallon stainless steel drum will set you back about $500.

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hand sanitizer Family Handyman

Hand Sanitizer

Stock up on hand sanitizer. By using hand sanitizer instead of soap and water, you can stretch your water supply a little further.

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Rain water collection systemFamily Handyman

Rainwater Collection System

Install a rainwater collection system. You’ll still need to purify the water, but its a good way to take advantage of a natural resource.This DIY rain barrel costs less than $100 and works just as well as the expensive one you can buy.Get complete how-to instructions and start saving water with the next rainfall.

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drain water in water heaterFamily Handyman

Water Heater Bonus

There are 40 gallons of water or more in your water heater. To extract this water, turn off your water at the house’s main shutoff, and turn off the gas/power to your water heater. Open a couple faucets above the water heater, if possible, to break the vacuum effect. Hook up a hose and drain the water from the tank. If there are solids in the water, filter them out before using it.
Check out these 10 busted plumbing myths.

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TupperwareBANGKOKER/SHUTTERSTOCK

Sealed Containers Are a Must

Don’t store water in a container that can’t be sealed. If a container doesn’t have a tight seal, all sorts of contaminants can enter.

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pour water into glass oxygenateTarasyuk Igor/Shutterstock

Oxygenate Flat Water

If stored water tastes flat, oxygenate it by pouring it back and forth between two clean containers.

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shutterstock_695124241-1200x1200 little girls jumping on couch furnitureSeventyFour/Shutterstock

Be Less Active

Decrease your activity and keep cool to minimize the amount of water you need to stay hydrated. Plus, go check out these14 fun DIYs you and your child can do inside when it’s too wet to go outdoors.

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shutterstock_638547907-1200x1200 pool winterization plugssirirak kaewgorn/Shutterstock

Fill Up Your Pool

Even a wading pool works. This water will need filtration and purification before you can drink it. And there’s nothing more soothing than jumping into cool, clear water on a hot day. We’ve rounded up 10 swim-worthy swimming pool ideas that would make any backyard an instant neighborhood hot spot.

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do laundry washing machineFamily Handyman

Clean Laundry

Do laundry ahead of time. If you know you’ll likely be without water, be sure you have enough clean clothes to get you through.

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drop-in-sink kitchen

Fill Bathtubs and Sinks With Water

You won’t be able to drink this water without purification, but you’ll be able to use it as is for washing and flushing the toilet.

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water from your dehumidifierFamily Handyman

Water From Dehumidifier

If you have power, use the water from your dehumidifier. Yes, it’s distilled water, but you shouldn’t drink it, as it’s not purified or filtered. Use this water for washing, toilet flushing or watering plants.

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camp shower bag campingFamily Handyman

Camping Shower

Camp showers ($10 to $100) are available in a wide variety for those who require a bit more luxury than a sponge bath. This might be a good option if you have a plentiful supply of water.

Before you set out on a camping adventure check out these 15 cool camping accessories you can buy on Amazon. Many are highly rated, inexpensive and perfect for making camping easier and more fun.

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flush toilet with a bucket of waterFamily Handyman

Flush the Toilet With a Bucket of Water

When you flush the toilet with a bucket of water, but pour it into the tank instead of the bowl. This method uses less water than pouring it directly into the bowl. Unpurified water, such as water stored in the tub without a container, is perfect for toilet flushing.

Learn the simple four-step strategy that solves 95 percent of toilet flush problems. Stop water from constantly running, give a wimpy flush a boost, and solve other common problems quickly and easily.

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hanging toilet paper over or underInked Pixels/Shutterstock

Toilet Paper Absorbs Water

Dispose of toilet paper in a wastebasket. Yes, you’ll still be flushing your toilet, but there won’t be the typical amount of water going through the drain from other sources, so it’s more likely that toilet paper could cause a backup.

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HH icy drinks water bottle frozen

Bottled Water

If you’re storing plastic bottles of water for an emergency, you should use/rotate your supply once a year or so.

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dfh1_shutterstock_139231043 flood damage water damage repairLeonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock

Flood Water


Avoid contact with floodwater, which can be extremely toxic. It likely contains all sorts of chemicals as well as raw sewage. Learn what to do during a flood with our emergency severe weather guide.

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wet wipes cleanFamily Handyman

Cleaning Without Soap and Water


Stock up on Clorox wipes and hand wipes. Use these for general cleaning instead of soap and water.

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Freezer jugs of water ice cream treatsFamily Handyman

Freezer Hack for Power Outages

Freeze jugs of water. If the power is out, they’ll help keep your frozen food safe a bit longer. When the ice melts, you can use it for drinking.A power outage is more than an inconvenience; it can lead to expensive repairs and may even be dangerous to you and your family. These 10 tips to survive a blackout will help you protect yourself, your wallet and maintain some conveniences in a blackout.

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fill glass jugs with waterFamily Handyman

More Water Storage

Glass containers are good, if properly sanitized. But they’re heavy to transport and they break easily.

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filter water with coffee flitersFamily Handyman

Filtering Water

Filter out solids through a coffee filter before purifying water.

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disposable plates and utensils paper plates plastic forksFamily Handyman

Fewer Dishes to Wash

Stock up on disposable plates and utensils. Conserve your supply of water by minimizing the number of dishes you have to wash.

It’s never too early to prepare your family and your home for hurricanes, severe weather or natural disasters. Use this “How-To” guide to help you protect your property and loved ones in advance of an emergency.

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Glow-in-the-Dark Flashlight

Glow-in-the-Dark Flashlight

Glow-in-the-dark tape makes a flashlight easy to find when the power goes out. Adhesive-backed tape holds its radiance for hours after exposure to light. Find it at home centers or online.Plus: 10 Ways to Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls at Home

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Lightning: Don't Get Struck Indoors

Lightning: Don't Get Struck Indoors

Your home is probably the safest place to be in an electrical storm. But here's a safety tip you may not know. Lightning can still get to you through the conductive paths in your house; that means your wiring, your plumbing and water. Talking on a corded phone, taking a shower or bath, working on your desktop computer or handling power tools during an electrical storm isn't much safer than standing outside. It's best to stay away from all water and appliances until the storm passes.
Photo provided by Getty Images Photographer John Churchman

Plus: 11 Tips for Solo DIY Work

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Don't Get Shocked In a Flooded BasementLeonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock

Don't Get Shocked In a Flooded Basement

The water in a flooded basement probably isn't electrified by your home's electrical lines. But it could be. So instead of finding out the hard way, just consider it an energized pool of instant death until you call your utility company to disconnect your power. Then you can dive in. And after the water is gone, remember that anything electrical in the basement may still be wet, damaged and dangerous. So it's best to leave the basement power off until your utility company or an electrician gives you the OK.Plus: 11 Epic Electrical Fails

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Keep Your Wheels on Dry Land

Keep Your Wheels on Dry Land

Driving through a few inches of water seems safe enough, but it kills people every year. Floodwater hides washouts and the road itself, and you can suddenly find yourself in deep water. In just 6 in. of water, some cars partially float and become hard to control. And any passenger vehicle, even a monster SUV, will become a rudderless barge in 2 ft. of rushing water. When you find a flooded road, better to turn around than risk drowning.

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Keep Your Generator Away From the HouseFamily Handyman

Keep Your Generator Away From the House

A generator is the best thing to have in a blackout. But it can make you black out (or die). Hurricane Katrina led to more than 50 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. Like any internal combustion engine, a generator engine exhausts carbon monoxide gas, which can give you a headache, knock you out or even kill you. This is easy to avoid, though: Don't run a generator in your garage or porch, and keep it at least 10 ft. away from your house.

Plus: 16 Tips for Using Emergency Generators

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Stay Out of Gushing Floodwater

Stay Out of Gushing Floodwater

Six inches of floodwater doesn't look dangerous. But if it's moving fast enough, it's enough to sweep you off your feet and carry you into the hereafter. Rushing water also erodes roads and walkways, creating drop-offs that you can't see under the torrent. A long pole, stick or pipe lets you probe for drop-offs and might help you stay on your feet. Still, the smartest move is to stay out of flowing water.

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Don't Burn Down the House!Gorb Andrii/Shutterstock

Don't Burn Down the House!

When soldering, it's always a little scary working so close to wood with a flaming torch, especially when the water is turned off. Make a point of filling a bucket with water first, keep a fire extinguisher handy and protect flammable materials with a flame protector.Plus: These 11 Smoke Alarm Tips Could Save Your Life

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Flooded Basement? Turn Off the GasFamily Handyman

Flooded Basement? Turn Off the Gas

Floodwater and floating junk can lead to damaged gas lines and malfunctioning gas controls. Leaked gas then bubbles up through the water, giving your basement an explosive atmosphere on top of the flood. And the smell of gas may be masked by other floodwater odors. So call the utility company to shut off your gas even if you don't smell it. If you do smell gas, get out of the house before you make the call.

Plus: Here's How to Make a Home Safe for Older Folks

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Stay Dry in a Flooded BasementFamily Handyman

Stay Dry in a Flooded Basement

Furniture isn't the only stuff floating in your basement. The water probably contains chemicals stored downstairs and a dose of sewage that backed up through basement drains. That's not just disgusting, but also a toxic soup that can make you sick. Before you go down there, gear up with rubber boots and gloves to prevent skin contact. Also wear gloves when cleaning up the polluted sludge left by the flood.

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Install Surge Protectors to Protect your Microprocessors

Install Surge Protectors to Protect your Microprocessors

Computer chips are sensitive and highly vulnerable to momentary power surges, especially powerful ones induced by lightning. Losing a $1,000 computer is bad enough, but losing photos, music and other irreplaceable stuff on your hard drive is often much worse. Insulate your valuable microprocessors from this danger by plugging them into a surge protector. Better surge protectors will have the following ratings printed somewhere on the box: meets UL 1449 or IEEE 587; clamps at 330 volts or lower; can absorb at least 100 joules of energy or more; and handles telephone lines and video cables as well.

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Consider a Water-Powered Backup Sump PumpFamily Handyman

Consider a Water-Powered Backup Sump Pump

A battery-powered pump is a great backup for your main sump pump, especially if your house is supplied by a well. But if you're on a municipal water system, a water-powered backup pump may be a better option (a well pump won't work if the power's out). The price you'll pay for water consumption during a power outage is a pittance compared with the cost of a flooded basement. And, a water-powered pump never needs new batteries. The pump shown here (Basepump RB750, from basepump.com) installs on the ceiling above the sump. You'll have to run a 3/4-in. water line to it and connect the remote float and tubing to the switch near the pump. Then run a separate self-draining pipe that drains outside.

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Turn Your Car Into a GeneratorFamily Handyman

Turn Your Car Into a Generator

A power inverter, which turns DC current from your car into AC current for electric gadgets, is the next best thing to a generator when it comes to surviving a blackout. An inverter to power a tablet or laptop will cost you about $25, but there are much bigger models ($100 and up) that can run power tools and appliances.

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Get Cash!Family Handyman

Get Cash!

In a blackout, cash is king and an essential part of your survival kit. Some stores may stay open, but they probably won't be able to process credit card purchases. And all the cash machines will be on strike. Keep an emergency cash stash on hand.Plus: 17 Simple Ways to Save Money on Insurance

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Conserve Batteries With LEDsFamily Handyman

Conserve Batteries With LEDs

During a power outage, LED flashlights and lanterns have a huge advantage over incandescent models: They allow batteries to last much longer (typically about six to ten times as long). And LED technology isn't just for flashlights. Consider using "puck" lights, the type designed for under-cabinet lighting. Stick them up in bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways so you don't have to stumble around in the dark.Plus: 8 Things to Put in Your Home Emergency Toolkit

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Fill the Grill TankFamily Handyman

Fill the Grill Tank

A blackout limits many of life's little pleasures, but you can still enjoy a hot meal if you have a gas grill and a full tank. Consider feeding friends and neighbors by grilling the contents of your fridge and freezer before anything goes bad.

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Ice Saves MoneyFamily Handyman

Ice Saves Money

A couple of days without power can cost you a few hundred bucks as food spoils in fridges and freezers. You could try to buy a few bags of ice (along with everyone else) after the power goes out. But here's a better idea: Fill locking freezer bags with water and keep them in the freezer. During a blackout, they'll help the freezer stay cold longer. Or you can transfer them to the fridge or a cooler. When they thaw, you've got drinking water.

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A CO Detector is EssentialFamily Handyman

A CO Detector is Essential

Blackouts often lead to carbon monoxide deaths. Here's why: To get heat during outages, people crank up fireplaces, gas stoves and all types of heaters—and anything that burns produces carbon monoxide. It's OK to use these heat sources, but first place a battery-operated CO detector in the room. You can buy a detector for about $25 at any home center.

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Gas UpFamily Handyman

Gas Up

Even if you don't plan to go anywhere, your car is a critical part of your survival kit. It's your emergency transport, your charging system for cell phones and maybe even the only heated space you'll have. So don't wait until the blackout hits. Without power, gas stations can't pump gas from their tanks into yours.

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Get a RadioFamily Handyman

Get a Radio

If phone and Internet systems go down along with the power grid, a battery-powered radio may be your only source of weather and emergency information. You could listen in your car, but a portable radio lets you listen anywhere. Battery-powered radios cost as little as $20 at discount stores.

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After the Power Goes OutFamily Handyman

After the Power Goes Out

  • Unplug everything. As the grid sputters back to life, it may create power surges that can destroy electronics. Leave one light switched on so you know when power has returned.
  • Don't use candles. Flashlights produce more light and won't burn your house down.
  • Bring solar landscape lights inside. Don't forget to put them out for recharging during the day.
  • Keep the fridge closed. The less you open fridge and freezer doors, the longer your food will stay cold.
  • Tap your water heater. It's your built-in emergency water supply. Let the water cool before you open the drain valve.
  • Don't take chances. Power outages mean packed emergency rooms and delayed ambulance service; it's a bad time to get injured.

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Patch a Small HoleFamily Handyman

Patch a Small Hole

Minor roof damage can lead to major water damage inside your home. But if you keep a few simple materials on hand, you can seal most roof injuries in just a few minutes. A section of flashing is the perfect patch for smaller holes—often caused by blown-down tree branches. Don't forget to caulk around the hole. Special roof sealant is best, but any type of caulk is better than nothing.

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Tarp Large AreasFamily Handyman

Tarp Large Areas

If you need a quick fix for roof damage that's larger than a shingle or two, the fastest bandage is a plastic tarp. Secure a tarp over the damaged area with 2x4s or lath nailed to the roof. If possible, secure the tarp over the roof ridge; it's difficult to make the tarp waterproof at the upper end. But don't kill yourself: Trying to patch a slippery, wet roof during a storm is dangerous. Add in high winds or lightning and the situation is deadly. So think twice before you head up there.

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Family Handyman

Don’t Get Locked In


Garage door openers lock up when the power goes off. Make sure everyone in your home knows about the cord that releases the door from the opener. That way, they can lift the door open and get the car out in an emergency.

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patio with fire pitArtazum/Shutterstock

Start Moving Stuff

Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools, andanchor objects that cannot be brought inside. Learn how to prepare your yardhere.

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Review Evacuation Plans

You and your family should pick two locations to go to for safety in the event of an emergency. Choose one out-of-town person as an emergency contact and create a list of emergency contacts that can be kept in a safe, readily available place. For a complete list of how to prepare an evacuation plan, go here.

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Locate Water, Gas and Electricity Shut Offs

Finding the water, gas and electricity shutoffs should be among the first things you do when you move into a new home. They should be near the top of your list at locating when a hurricane is forecasted. Wait to turn off your gas until local officials tell you to do so.

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Turn Refrigerator and Freezer to Coldest Setting

That way if the power does go out your food will stay cold a little longer. If your fridge is on the fritz, check out these quick fixes you can do yourself.

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dfh1_shutterstock_494465848 plug in outlet extension cordsEHStockphoto/Shutterstock

Unplug Electrical Appliances if Power is Lost

Unplugging your appliances will prevent any potential damage from a power surge once power is restored. Do you know you can save hundreds of dollars by unplugging these you don’t use frequently?

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dfh12_shutterstock_455541607 home insurance claimWilliam Potter/Shutterstock

Gather Insurance Documents

Your home insurance documents and other important papers should be part of your storm kit and readily available in the event of a disaster because you will need that proof for claims and assistance. Know what your policy will cover, homeowners insurance has covered some incredible things like blue ice falling from airplanes.

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Determine What to Do With Pets


Not all emergency shelters will accept pets through their doors so it’s important to have a plan for your pets. Before storm season arrives, locate shelters that allow pets and contact them. Keep a picture of your pet if it gets lost or have them microchipped, if you haven’t already. More a complete, detailed list of items to consider with pets, click here.

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Elevate Furniture, if There’s Time


If there is time before the storm hits your area, it’s good idea to move furniture to higher ground, but only if you have time. There are certainly far more pressing tasks in a time of crisis.

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Keep Flashlights and Extra Batteries in Dry Areas


Store them in containers to make sure they will work if need be. Plus: 21 things every homeowner MUST know.