Is Your Home Prepared for Disaster?

The following post was contributed by reader, Emma Lear.

If you’re thinking of buying a house in Edmonton, it’s definitely important to consider how well prepared the property is to withstand flood and tornado damage, or even just damage caused by heavy rain and strong winds. Even if you’re just thinking in terms of your current house, how well prepared are you if the weather takes a turn for the worst? Does your home have good protection from wind and water damage?

Tornadoes and Heavy Winds

tornado

Tornadoes as devastating as the one that hit Edmonton in 1987 are very rare, but heavy winds can cause extensive damage to a home that isn’t prepared to withstand it. The most vulnerable points of access for a home in terms of wind damage are the doors, windows, and roof, so focus on these areas to improve your home’s protection against from heavy winds.  

  • Storm shutters protect windows from heavy winds, reducing the risk of breaking and preventing wind from causing interior damage. Skylights and glass doors should be shuttered too.
  • The bigger the doors and windows are, the more vulnerable they are. Plate glass windows, double doors, and garage doors, for example, may need extra protection.
  • Make sure roof tiles and sheathing are securely fastened, and if your roof is gabled, they should be braced for maximum security.
  • Keep the yard clear of debris as much as possible, and make sure outbuildings such as greenhouses and sheds are well secured.

Rain and Flooding

Overall, Edmonton doesn’t get a huge amount of rainfall annually, but because , a large amount of water often falls in a short amount of time, flooding is a common problem. The most recent severe flooding in the Edmonton area, in July 2004, caused extensive flood damage in more than 4,000 homes, and since then Drainage Services has instituted public education programs and other measures to prevent such extensive flood damage happening again.

  • Edmonton Drainage Services have a subsidy program for homeowners who live in homes built before 1989, and have problems with basement flooding. The subsidy helps pay for installation of a backwater valve to prevent future flooding.
  • Edmonton home owners can have a flood prevention home check-up free of charge by contacting Drainage Services. An inspector will check for drainage problems in key areas around the house and yard, and provide you with recommendations for fixing any problems they find.
  • A neighbourhood flood map can also be useful in pinpointing expected floodwater levels in your area, and can help determine what protection measures might be necessary. For example, your electrical panel should be at least a foot above the maximum floodwater level.

Your Family Disaster Plan

Does your family have designated plan that everyone knows to follow if your home is affected by a serious hazard? Many families have a designated “escape route” in case of fire, but not everyone thinks to prepare a disaster kit and plan what to do in case a tornado or flood hits.

  • Check whether your insurance covers you for flood and tornado damage. Many standard policies don’t cover damage from these causes. It’s better to check this out sooner rather than later, as many such policies take up to 30 days to kick in.
  • Designate an interior room in the house—one without windows—as the “safe room” where the family can gather if a tornado hits.
  • Plan an escape route if you don’t have one, and choose a meeting point for your family in an alternate location.
  • Select a family member who lives in another part of the country to serve as an independent point of contact.
  • Make an emergency kit with food and water (enough for at least three days), first aid supplies, radio, torch, and batteries, stored in a water-tight container.
  • Make sure every member of the family understands all points of your disaster recovery plan and know what to do in case of an emergency.

Sources

Allstate. “Wind and Severe Weather Protection.” AccessedMay 10, 2014. City of Edmonton. “Flood Protection Program.” Accessed May 10, 2014. Strategies for reducing flood damage.
EdmontonDrainage Services. “Backwater Valve Subsidy Programs.” Accessed May 10, 2014. Subsidy for residential areas.
Environment Canada. “Spring and Summer Weather Hazards.” Accessed May 10, 2014. Tornado safety tips.
First Aid Canada “Emergency Supply Kits.” Accessed May 10, 2014.
Martin Lane. “I'm Buying a House, How Do I Tell if it's at Risk of Flood?” Accessed May 10, 2014. Assessing residential areas.
Red Cross. “Make a Plan.” Accessed May 10, 2014. Home disaster recovery plan.

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13 Responses to “Is Your Home Prepared for Disaster?”

  1. wsnNo Gravatar 21. May, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Just came across the Journal article “Alberta’s mandatory home warranty legislation finally takes effect Feb. 1″ with Sheldon’s input on home warranty.

    Since I am shopping for a builder’s warranty right now, could you Sheldon or Sara recommend a provider? I heard that most of them are pretty bad in terms of customer relations. But still want to pick the best of the bad bunch.

    Thanks in advance!

    • mikeNo Gravatar 21. May, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

      The new home warranty program may have taken effect but you won’t see any new homes or condos for another 8-10 months that will be under the new warranty program. Every builder will still be on the old warranty system due to most permits being stuck under the old system.

      Fun to see the govt delay delay delay on the changes and then release the new warranty changes onto builders\buyers with little care of how the effects everyone.

      Seems silly that a house not even under construction yet could still be under the old warranty program.

      • wsnNo Gravatar 21. May, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

        mike, that’s not what I was asking.

        • mikeNo Gravatar 21. May, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

          I know. I vented a bit there….

    • Sara MacLennanNo Gravatar 21. May, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

      If we were building a home ourselves, we’d go with Alberta New Home Warranty. It’s an actual warranty where some of the others are more like insurance policies. Also, they inspect properties on occasion while the others do not, to our knowledge.

      • wsnNo Gravatar 21. May, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

        Thanks for the input!

        • GMNo Gravatar 21. May, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

          God help you if you discover something that is supposed to be covered under the New Home Warranty.

          They will duck, weave, dodge, ignore and delay until you finally give up and just fix it yourself.

          Trust me. I’ve been through it.

          • JoJoNo Gravatar 22. May, 2014 at 8:17 am #

            I agree, I have the same issue. I built a new home about 2 years ago. After 6 months the hardwood started to heave up. Still under warranty, I called the home builder and they sent out the hardwood guy. He says it’s because of humidity, so we turn it down and said to monitor it. At one year inspection the wood is still heaved up. Then he tells us the same thing. Fine. Now we’re at 2 years. The hardwood is still heaved up and they never follow up again. So basically they just gave me some bogus reason and didn’t do anything….

          • GMNo Gravatar 23. May, 2014 at 12:38 am #

            Yes, Jojo. That’s their standard method of operation. Stall and stall until the time limit expires.
            They’re definitely a “for-profit” company.

  2. 123kidNo Gravatar 23. May, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    Ditto on the other people’s experiences re: the stalling tactics used to not pay a legit warranty claim….

    As for wsn’s question (although I may be a little late in answering….

    Warranty Providers

    In Alberta, there are currently five warranty providers that builders may partner with for your coverage:

    +Aviva Insurance Company of Canada represented by National Home Warranty Group Inc.
    +Blanket Home Warranty Ltd.
    +Progressive Home Warranty Solutions Inc.
    +The Alberta New Home Warranty Program
    +Travelers Insurance Company of Canada

    Sarah mentioned one of these more like an actual warranty program than the others.

    • wsnNo Gravatar 23. May, 2014 at 10:23 am #

      Thank you 123kid!

      I did a little research. It seems that Alberta New Home Warranty requires 3 years of building history and client reference, which I don’t have. Guess I will have to use someone else.

      • 123kidNo Gravatar 23. May, 2014 at 11:39 am #

        You are welcome wsn :)

        Hope the hunt turns out aok for you.

  3. 123kidNo Gravatar 23. May, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    Also here is the link to the public registry

    link to homewarranty.alberta.ca