Written by: Naomi Broderick
Nature has a way of making an entrance, sometimes announced and sometimes without so much as a whisper of her arrival. That’s why when push comes to shove, it’s good to know you’ve done everything you can to protect yourself, your family and your belongings. We probably will never be able to control nature, and that’s a good thing, but we can prepare for the things she’s known to throw our way here in Arizona, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and so on. A home security system as offered by ADT Security Systems in Phoenix, Arizona can be a key component to your peace of mind. Why? Because when there’s something driving people out of their homes, there’s always someone willing to take the risk of staying behind to see what they can steal. It’s sad, but true, looters are part of every disaster. Unfortunately thieves aren’t just around during the bad times; they hang out in our neighborhoods during the good times too. Especially those living in Phoenix, with its high crime rate, know how important it is to protect yourself. This is why a home security system is always a good thing. It’ s been shown in studies that even if no one is around, intruders will leave a house equipped with a security alarm more quickly than one where silence prevails. So be sure to always arm it before you leave. After that, the first thing you want to do is identify the types of natural disasters your area is prone to. Arizona, overall, has quite a bit to offer in that division. Here a few tips for various natural disasters.
- Before – make sure your windows and doors are shut and sealed. If you have storm shutters, use them. Secure all loose objects, such as trash cans and patio furniture, outside of your house. Get your pets to safety. Make sure your flashlights are in working condition and the generator, if you have one is ready to go. Quite frequently these storms can cause power outages. Have protective masks and eyewear ready
- During– stay inside your home until you are sure the storm is over. Have your flashlight ready and make sure you stay away from windows and doors. Sandstorms are accompanied by strong winds. Listen to your radio for updates.
- After – before exiting your home after a dust storm make sure to put on your dust mask and protective eyewear. Be very careful when opening the door, you don’t know what landed there and there will be a lot of dust coming into your home. Make sure your children stay back until you have assessed the situation. Close the door behind you and if there is no large debris in your path, use a broom to sweep off the dust from your windows and doors. The more dust you remove from this way the less you will get into the house and the better your air quality is going to be. This is also a good time to change the filter on your air conditioning or heating unit. Check your roof for loose tile and the structure of your house for any damage.
- Before – to get your home ready you should make sure that your heavy appliances are bolted down. Bookshelves, mirrors and heavy pictures should be properly anchored. Place heavy items on the bottom shelves of your storage areas. If you use gas in your home make sure to check with the gas company if you require a vibration sensitive shut off valve. Look for earthquake safe areas in your home such as sturdy tables to find cover under; these are things you should practice with your children to make sure they know what to do. It’s always good to have bottled water and flashlights on hand and accessible.
- During – Get to the closest safe space as quickly as possible, hunker down and hold on until the vibration stops.. Check your surroundings to make sure nothing has come lose and no debris can harm you before exiting your safe place
- After – Be very careful when you leave the place where you’ve taken shelter. Look around carefully to make sure nothing has been damaged or shifted in a way that it could present a risk. You should also remember that there may be a number of after-quakes that might be quite intense, so don’t stray too far from safety. Once you’ve deemed it safe enough to exit, look where you are going, where you are placing your feet before you put them to the ground. With your feet firmly placed on the ground make sure to check your overhead in case the ceiling sustained damage. Stay out from under lamps and chandeliers and be sure to watch for wires that may have become exposed. If you have any doubt to the structural safety, leave the house and have it checked by an expert. Same goes when leaving the house, be very attentive to your surroundings.
Flash-Floods and Landslides
- Before – Flash floods and landslides usually go hand in hand. If you are in a flash flood warning area and you are aware of heavy rains heading your way, get the important things to higher ground. For example you can have a cement step poured to accommodate your washer and dryer, keeping them off the ground. You should have your important documents, medication and first aid kit in water proof containers. Don’t wait until it’s too late to evacuate; if the announcement is made, be prepared to leave.
- During – keep an eye on the water level from a safe distance, if this is the staircase then use it. Make sure you stay out of the water and away from doors and windows. There is debris in the water which is very dangerous and can shatter windows and bones. Get as high as you can safely get and wait until you can safely assess the situation. Listen to your radio for announcements on the status of the water and the damage in your area.
- After - No matter how shallow the water flooding your home was and no matter how little mud was pushed into your home, you should always treat it as contaminated. You don’t know what is mixed in with the water or mud you come in contact with. Chemicals, insecticides, pesticides or bacteria may very well be present. Be careful of your surroundings, water may cover holes that are hidden from the eye and can cause injuries, the mud may look like sturdy ground only to hide a cavity beneath. So when you’re ready to get to the clean-up and after you have made sure the structure is sound, wear protective clothing. Rubber boots, heavy duty rubber gloves, goggles and mask. Remember it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Before – Tornadoes don’t always give us enough time to escape to the nearest shelter because they are so hard to predict. This is why it’s important to be prepared even if you’re caught at home. You may have a little more warning for a hurricane, but your actions should be the same. Have a safe place (basement, root cellar) that you can reach quickly. Store supplies such as water, food, first aid kit, flashlight, radio there. Make sure to rotate the supplies, you don’t want to have spoiled water or food. Also make sure your batteries work. This is another thing you should practice with the entire family.
- During – Stay put and listen to your radio. Under no circumstances should you leave your shelter before the tornado/hurricane warning has been cancelled. Especially with a hurricane you might think it’s blown past when in reality the eye is hovering over you and feigning calm.
- After – Be very careful when exiting your shelter, you don’t know what’s waiting for you out there. The strong winds may have blown debris of substantial size into your path. There may be live electrical wires in your path. The structural damage to buildings may not be visible, but there. Make sure to inspect for cracks and sagging and stay out of the structure if you do find any, have a professional inspect it to make sure you aren’t in harm’s way. If walking under trees or in a wooded area make sure to pay attention to even the slightest creak- loose branches may fall at any time and can cause great bodily damage. When removing debris, be sure to wear gloves; there may be nails protruding or splinters. You will also be grateful for them if you encounter spiders and other little critters that are just as upset as you are by nature’s fury.
- Before – Wild fires are something that can occur at any time during the summer season and any place in these very hot and dry Arizona regions. They can ignite by thunderstorms or by human negligence, the outcome is the same. You should always have your most important things ready to go (medication and documents) in case you need to evacuate your home. Keep flammables away from your house and store them in the appropriate containers. If you are renovating or building a home make sure to use fire retardant material, it may only gain you a few minutes extra minutes, but that might be all firefighters need. Here again an ADT home security system can be very useful ,as it informs your fire department in case of a fire, getting first responders on site in a timely manner. Remember we’re not always home when these things happen. Keep trees and brush away from your house, they help fuel fires. Have an escape route ready. Having fire drills at home is just as important as having them at schools. You want your child to know exactly what he/she should do in case of a fire.
- During – if the fire is still distant and you have time, wet your roof and walls with water. The wetter it is the better. If the fire is close don’t play the hero, get your family and essentials and leave at once. There’s nothing you can do but wait in safety and let the firemen to their job.
- After – If your home wasn’t damaged by the fire or only partially so, you may still have to deal with a lot of ash and smoke. These are things that are stubborn and hard to get rid of. The smell may linger with you for quite some time. White distilled vinegar, mixed with water can help reduce the smell to some extent but be sure to check on a non- visible part of your furniture to make sure it won’t discolor. Make sure you have an expert come to inspect your home if it was in any way subjected to the fire. You want to know that everything is in good condition.
And now that all the natural catastrophes are over it’s time to assess how well your home security before, during and after a disaster is. Did everyone know where to go and what to do? If not, it’s time to make those changes. There’s no time like now to get into the right mode for the next disaster. Having family drills on a regular basis is a good idea for any scenario. This imprints the important information in your and your family’s memory better than any list could. Stay safe and happy prepping!
Author Bio: Naomi Broderick is a mother of three and a professional writer. When she’s not chauffeuring the kids all over the map or writing, she’s surfing (the net that is) to stay on top of things.