We have what I facetiously refer to as a “Zombie Apocalypse Kit” in our house. With climate change throwing all sorts of weather curve-balls at us, having a few days’ worth of food and water isn’t just for preppers any more. But do you know how your home fares during power outages and flooding? If you live in Toronto like I do, you probably discovered first hand during the ice storm, flooding, and brown outs over the past few years. Extreme weather is happening more frequently across the globe, and impacts you whether you live in an urban or rural area. Here are ways you can improve the resilience of your home, and potentially reduce costly damage in the event of an emergency.
Keeping Comfortable Without Power
Here are some ways you can keep warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer without power (you’ll also save on your utility bills when the power is on):
- Reduce air leakage through your walls, windows, and doors
- Use curtains/blinds to block sun in the summer to keep cooler
- Energy efficiency renovations like insulating and replacing windows will also help (Torontonians can check out the Home Energy Loan Program for assistance)
- Consider installing a second heat source (i.e. wood burning stove/fireplace)
Water can enter the home through foundation walls, basement floors, sewer back-ups, and if frozen pipes burst. Help protect yourselves and your belongings with the following:
- Install a backflow preventer on your sanitary drain
- Seal cracks in the foundation wall
- Drain and close exterior hose bib lines, or install a freeze-proof style tap
- Insulate water lines, especially those near exterior walls to help prevent freezing
- Waterproof basement walls (make sure you do your research on a reputable company and process)
A full freezer will keep things cooler, longer. If you have extra space, make ice blocks with yogurt containers. Avoid opening the fridge and freezer as much as possible – know what food you have on hand and where it is located so you can access it quickly and easily (there are apps available to help keep your fridge organized). Better yet, have pantry items available so you can keep the fridge closed altogether.
Some investment in these resilience-enhancers may prevent more expensive (and inconvenient) repairs in the event of severe weather. Consider what you can do now, and what you can budget for in your next renovation project. Check out your local municipality and utilities for incentive programs to help cover the cost of more expensive upgrades. You might want to get some extra air mattresses too – once your neighbours find out how comfy your house is, they’ll be knocking on your door in the next power outage.