How You Can Prepare Your Home For Natural Disasters
Natural but unexpected phenomena seem to be happening on any given day somewhere in the country and it's likely you and your home may be impacted by a natural disaster like a wild fire, severe storm or extreme temperatures. Lennox recommends you take this wise advice from the American Red Cross, no matter where you live: "Create and practice an emergency plan so you know what to do in a crisis."
At Lennox, we care a lot about the quality of the air you breathe and about keeping you comfortable, and your local Lennox® dealer can help make sure your HVAC systems is operating sufficiently before and after a natural disaster. Follow the tips below to prepare for a natural disaster:
Until you're required to evacuate your home, indoors is the safest place to be during a fire advisory, and your HVAC system can make sure you stay cool and your air stays clean. You'll want to keep doors and windows closed and abstain from doing anything that emits gas, scents, or debris. Prepare for a natural disaster ahead of time by changing and upgrading all filters, then when things start getting hot, close fresh intake vents and run your system at high efficiency. Read more and see other tips on how to run your HVAC system during (and after) a fire advisory.
We may tend to think the flames of an out-of-control fire are the primary threat, but the smoke that's generated will spread to impact more people than the flames themselves. Ac-cording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at particular risk are those who have heart or lung diseases, older adults, children, and pregnant women. This article on their website, "Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke," lists ten things you can do to prepare.
Also consider installing a whole-home air purification system. The PureAir™ and PureAir™ S Air Purification Systems from Lennox not only remove 99.9 percent of airborne particles like dust, pet dander and pollen, they can rid a home of smoke and the unpleasant odors that accompany it. Learn more about these products and how they can help you breathe perfectly clean air.
Even a good HVAC system can struggle when the thermometer goes crazy, so it's critical that, in both summer and winter, you prepare for a natural disaster. You can start by calling your local Lennox® dealer to get your system checked out and ensure it's operating efficiently.
In the meantime, know that extreme cold can be especially life-threatening,
Protect yourself and the ones you love by reading our "7 Ways Homeowners Can Battle Extreme Cold."
Then, once summer rolls around again, you can prepare for a natural disaster by understanding. For instance, did you know you're unlikely to make your house any cooler than 20 degrees below the outside temperature, no matter how low you set the thermostat? Instead, your air conditioner will cool more efficiently, and with less stress on the system, if you set the thermostat at a moderate temperature that's a little higher than your normal comfort zone.
You'll also want to follow these tips from the Red Cross:
- Eat small meals and eat more often,
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty, and
- Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
They offer ten more tips for heat safety here.
The National Weather Service ranks hurricanes among the most powerful and destructive phenomena in nature. You can prepare your HVAC system for all kinds of stormy weather by taking these five steps:
- Install a surge protector
- Turn off the system
- Get regular inspections
- Shield outdoor equipment
- Keep a backup generator in place
Read more about how you can prepare your home for a hurricane.
Also, while we often think first of their extremely high winds, the threat to life most deserving our attention comes in the form of a storm surge, the abnormal rise in seawater that results. It's the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the U.S., and can travel several miles in-land, especially along bays and rivers. Heavy rains can trigger additional inland flooding and impact residents well away from the storm's center. To make matters worse, tornadoes often accompany landfall. Considering all these dangers, Ready.gov offers helpful tips so you can prepare for hurricanes.
Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Wind Storms
Severe storms of all kinds can develop quickly and without you realizing it, so first of all, stay informed. State Farm® insurance company not only suggests keeping up with local weather updates and advisories, but recommends tuning in to NOAA Weather Radio, an automated 24-hour network of VHF FM weather radio stations. Then take shelter. In their article titled, Get Prepared for Severe Weather, the National Weather Service advises us to move inside (never under a highway overpass), away from windows, and as close to the center of the building as possible, because flying and falling debris are a storm's number one killer.
A 2018 poll showed that Americans fear earthquakes more than any other natural disaster, and although the highest risk occurs in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and Washington, they can happen anywhere without warning. Ready.gov offers their mantra, "Drop, Cover, & Hold On (to something that can protect you)," but also says that the best time to prepare for any disaster is before it happens. So their detailed instructions will fill you in on how to stay safe before, during, and after an earthquake. Read them here.
You can protect your HVAC system from a quake, too, and minimize the costly repairs that may result. Vibration Isolators placed under an HVAC unit can absorb movement while Restraint Brackets attached to the corners add support. Flex-line Piping can be installed in condensate and gas lines to absorb vibrations. After a quake, check to make sure your unit hasn't shifted, and check for cracks and dents to piping and coils. Look for air leaks in the ductwork, and finally, review your current insurance policy to confirm your coverage and avoid loopholes. You'll find more details in Shake It Up: Preparing Your HVAC For An Earthquake.
Make Preparedness Fun
Preparing for natural disasters can seem like something you'd rather avoid, but the Red Cross suggests you involve your family or household members to make it a fun project. Talk about how to prepare for a natural disaster and respond to the types of emergencies most likely to happen where you live. Identify roles for every member of your household and decide ahead of time how you can work together as a team. Then practice as many elements of the plan as possible. Just being proactive can take away a lot of the stress.
Be sure to follow public-health messaging on safety measures, as well as updates from local officials during extreme weather and natural disasters.