There’s no telling whether the rest of this hurricane season will bring anything like Superstorm Sandy, which flooded more than 150,000 homes, killed more than 140 people and left about 8.5 million homes in 20 states without power. A relatively minor storm can also cause major damage if it includes high winds, heavy rain or tree-snapping ice or snow.
Consumer Reports offers these ways to help protect your home and the people in it before disaster strikes.
• Cover windows properly. Experts used to recommend taping windows to limit breakage to a few large pieces, rather than many smaller ones. But small and large pieces can be equally deadly. A safer bet: Keep windows shut, and close blinds, shades and drapes.
• Secure outdoor items. High winds can turn lawn chairs, potted plants and trash cans into deadly projectiles. Move whatever you can into a garage or basement.
• Park cars on high ground. Two feet of floodwater can carry a car away. What’s more, driving in water just 8 inches deep can ruin the engine if the water seeps in through the air intake. Park at a high elevation or on a hill — but not beneath trees.
• Protect your valuables. Move what you can to higher floors if you expect flooding. Also, think ahead by documenting and photographing items you’d include in an insurance claim if lost or ruined.
• Build an emergency kit. It should have a whistle to attract help, dust masks, duct tape, a wrench or pliers to turn off water if needed, flashlights, batteries and local maps. Plan on a gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. Include moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation. Also consider changes of clothing and sleeping bags or blankets.
• Be prepared for injuries. A first-aid kit should be stocked with bandages in various sizes, sterile dressings and gloves, hand sanitizer and antibiotic towelettes, a thermometer, pain medicines, tweezers and scissors.