Tips: Prepare For Any Natural Disaster

The International Code Council Foundation offers tips to prepare for any type of natural disaster.

Zero Cost

  • Plan in advance: Develop a family disaster plan that includes a list of food and water supplies needed for each member of your family, a plan and supplies for your pets, important documents and files, a disaster kit and what to have in it, maps of local evacuation routes and emergency shelter locations, important contact information for local emergency providers and a checklist of important things to do before, during and after a disaster.
  • Reduce the threat of wind-borne projectiles that are a major factor in home damage and destruction during hurricanes, tornadoes and other windstorm events. Bring anything inside that may become airborne during a storm, such as patio furniture, potted plants or toys.
  • Assess your home's vulnerability to natural disaster events. Visit to access a free, online wind inspection toolkit with a self-powered tool, how-to videos and to-do lists. Click on the YouTube link to explore the entire FLASH disaster safety library of animations for protection from disasters of all kinds. All the videos are backed with free, expert counsel on disaster safety building practices and resources.

Low Cost

  • Purchase a NOAA weather radio with battery back-up for your home.
  • To protect wind and water entry points, touch up window flashing with caulk or replacing flashing.
  • Check the security of garage door rollers and tracks, secure loose roof shingles, and check the throw length of dead bolts and head and foot bolts on exterior doors, especially double doors.
  • Don't overlook attics. Shutter soffit vents and gable-end vents with code-approved products. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, measure, cut and pre-drill all shutter plywood and material to save time before a high wind event using 5/8-inch thick exterior grade plywood.

Long-Term Improvements

  • Install code-approved opening protection for all exposed windows, glass surfaces, sliding glass doors, exterior doors and skylights for high wind protection.
  • Install a "Safe Room" in your home to help protect your family from tornadoes, hurricane winds outside of a flood zone and other severe windstorms. Shelters or safe rooms built to comply with the ICC/NSSA 500 tornado standard can withstand winds of up to 250 mph and can be incorporated into the construction of a new home or retrofitted into an existing home.
  • Prevent wildfire damage by developing a defensible space in your landscaping and clearing at least 30 feet around your home and 50 feet if you reside in a heavily wooded area. Plant fire-resistant, native vegetation and remove any dead or dying trees. Properly prune shrubs, and trim tree branches so they don't extend over a roof or near the chimney.

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