I am still counting my blessings that our home miraculously did not suffer damage due to Hurricane Sandy. But I have to say it's not just luck that saved our home. It's the fact that we've had so many old trees fall on our home in past years that we weren't going to take any more chances. As a result, we no longer have massive trees towering over our home. Unfortunately, our neighbors who live directly across the street from us still have monster trees on their property so I'm hoping this storm gives them the impetus to trim them or cut them down. I pretty much spent most of the storm staring at a 75 feet high evergreen -- praying it wouldn't topple the electrical wires and land on our front lawn.
So what can you do to protect your home from a terrible storm? For those who live near an ocean, lake or river, I don't have many tips on that front since no matter what you do to protect your home could still lead to tragic results. But if you live in a hilly area or far away from water, here are my homeowner tips for those of you thinking of buying a new home.
1. CUT DOWN YOUR TREES!!! -- Don't mean to offend tree lovers, but if you have a tree on your property that's more than 50 years old, you owe it to yourself and your neighbors to either trim your trees or cut them down completely. It is expensive -- we had to remove three massive pine trees when one fell on our home a few years ago but I was so glad that those trees were nowhere in sight when Hurricane Sandy hit. Incidentally, it typically costs about $1000 or more to remove a massive tree. And that doesn't factor in how much it costs to grind the stumps which you should do because that could cause a termite infestation.
2. IF YOUR HOME FLOODS, PURCHASE A SUMP PUMP -- The last thing you want to be doing is bailing out a home with a bucket after your home floods due to a storm or a hot water heater that bursts (happened to us). The only thing that will pump water out in an efficient manner is if you bring in a sump pump.
3. OWN A BACK UP GENERATOR -- Of course, you can't use your sump pump if you don't have electricity -- which is why it's best to invest in a back up generator that can power your home even if the electricity goes out.
4. BUY A WOOD BURNING STOVE -- If your home doesn't have a fireplace, then purchase a less expensive option -- a wood burning stove that can heat your home if the power goes out.
5. DON'T BUY A HOUSE THAT'S ON A DOWNGRADE -- When house hunting, find a home that is on top of a hill but not on a downgrade. Any time you see a home that's located at the bottom of a hill, you are destined for flooding. And that's not fun.
TWO BONUS TIPS:
OWN A LANDLINE THAT'S PLUGGED INTO THE WALL: If you have your phone service through your cable provider, if the cable goes out, you're out of luck. Still keep a phone line that's tied to a service like Verizon or Sprint and make sure one of your phones is old school and plugs into a wall. If you don't have to plug in a phone, it will work even if the power goes out! BUY A HYBRID CAR -- This isn't necessarily a homeowner tip, but in light of the recent news that people are waiting on lines for hours to get gas, I'm definitely thinking that our next car is going to be a hybrid. Of course, the car would have to be powered by your back up generator but at least it solves the problem of driving around for hours trying to find gas!