When you’re facing a hurricane or wildfire and running out of time to prepare, where should you start? Even facing a dwindling countdown, there are things you can do to prepare and protect your home. Here are some tips for last-minute home protection when a weather event is imminent.
General preparation tips
When there’s a natural disaster approaching your home, these are the tasks you should take care of as soon as possible:
- Check your emergency kit to ensure it’s ready to go. Change batteries in flashlights and grab extras.
- Check your first aid kit to ensure it’s stocked with necessary medical supplies.
- Stockpile your candles and matches.
- Check your wallet, ensuring there’s enough cash to fill up the gas tank in case the pump credit card readers are down.
- Ensure your vehicles have chargers for your electronics.
- Put together bags of essentials you’ll need on the road, including cellphones, medications, toiletries and water.
During a hurricane, much is beyond your control. However, there are steps you can take to limit potential damage.1 Begin by assessing all lower floors, including your basement and the main entry floor, as these are most at-risk for flooding, and take the following steps:
- Move your valuables to the highest floor of your home. Cover them with plastic sheeting and keep them away from large windows and skylights. Anything on the floor that you cannot move should be elevated, if possible. Flooding can range from inches of water to feet; getting things off the floor may help prevent damage.
- Activate your sump pump before evacuating. This will help keep water away from your basement and foundation during the storm.
- Charge all cellphones, tablets and laptops. Also charge extra batteries and battery phone cases.
- Leave electronics plugged in until the power goes out or you evacuate.
- Lower the temperature in your refrigerator a few hours before you leave. With a loss of power, perishables can stay cool for about a day. The lower temperatures may extend that time. Don’t open your refrigerator or freezer unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- Check your gutters and remove any debris. If necessary, you can store patio furniture in the pool as long as the water won’t damage the finish. Store any outdoor items in the garage to prevent damage from wind. Nonsecured items act like projectiles in storm winds.
- Learn how to use a generator safely.
- Only use generators outdoors and away from vents and windows
- Do not store fuel indoors
- Never refuel a generator when it’s hot
When wildfires threaten your home, conditions can change rapidly. In the time you have, many preventive actions don’t take long but are helpful.2 Here are some tips:
- Do a last-minute sweep of your yard to remove any dry brush that could easily catch fire.
- Make sure vents are covered securely with mesh to prevent embers from entering.3
- Turn on your roof sprinkler system, as well as any sprinklers on your property.
- When packing your belongings, don’t forget to grab your pet’s supplies as well.
- If you have space, load art and valuables into your vehicle.
- Secure your property — move all vehicles into the garage, lock your doors and windows and set your security system.
A smart way to protect yourself is to do a full video walk-through of your home and property before you evacuate. Take photos of the serial numbers on your electronics if possible. The footage will provide your insurance company with a clear record of the state of your property right before disaster hit.
Being forced out of your home is frightening, but even last-minute preparations can save you from undue stress down the road.
For more assistance in planning for an evacuation, contact your Nationwide Private Client agent.
If you have any questions, please contact your agent or Nationwide Private Client Risk Solutions professional. For more information on how you can help prevent losses, visit Nationwide.com/solutionseries.
 “8 Easy Ways to Do Last-Minute Hurricane Prep,' Lisa Davis on realtor.com/advice/homeimprovement (Oct. 2, 2015).
 “How To Prepare For a Wildfire,' fema.gov (May 2018).
 “Stay and Fight or Run Like Hell? How to Survive a Wildfire,' John Galvin on popularmechanics.com/adventures/outdoors/tips (July 2, 2013).