Ready for disaster

Don’t be lulled by low levels of natural disasters in 2013. Prepare your property for the worst.

Every year, natural disasters strike and inevitably cause damage to people’s property. Although 2013 saw low levels of hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes, homeowners should keep on their toes when it comes to potential disasters.

As natural events tend to be cyclic, the record lows of 2013 should be regarded as a sign that natural disasters will likely return to “higher average numbers” in 2014, according to CoreLogic’s 2013 Natural Hazard Risk Summary and Analysis.

Dr. Thomas Jeffery, lead author of the report and senior hazard scientist at Core- Logic, warns, “A lack of events over consecutive years may result in a reduction in preparation or awareness.”

Homebuyers or homeowners should be aware of the potential risks from natural hazards in a given area, which can help determine if the risk is acceptable. Jeffery suggests finding out if insurance can be obtained to offset any potential loss.

First, he suggests checking with local insurance agents, since they are familiar natural disasters typical to that location. Government agencies such as federal, state and local government units can be another source. By looking at related government websites, people can get an idea of the potential risks as well as details regarding precautions they should take.

For homesellers whose properties are in a natural hazard zone, Jeffery adds, “It is possible to mitigate the effects of some hazards, which could be viewed as a positive selling point to potential buyers.”

For example, homeowners in wildfireprone areas can reduce their risk by clearing flammable vegetation, using fire-resistant construction materials and installing mesh screen over any roof ventilation. Options for hurricane-prone areas include shatterproof glass or storm shutters to prevent window damage from flying debris.

Nothing can be assured as far as Mother Nature is involved. However, heeding this advice can be the first step in the direction of safer home.

— Yena Lee

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