Take steps to protect your home and family during severe summer weather

(BPT) – The warm summer brings about plenty of fun in the sun with picnics, camping and backyard parties. However, these months can produce severe weather, from tornadoes to hurricanes. In addition to planning fun outdoor activities to enjoy in the summer heat, Americans should also prepare their homes for the worst that Mother Nature can bring.

Recent weather events like Superstorm Sandy along the East Coast and the tornadoes in Oklahoma have heightened awareness about emergency preparedness and the importance of having reliable backup power. Severe summer storms can strike at any moment anywhere in the U.S., so it’s important for all homeowners to develop an emergency plan now, before the next big storm hits. Here are a few tips to help people protect their homes, belongings and families during severe weather events.

* Consider emergency backup power – During Superstorm Sandy, more than 8 million homes lost power up and down the East Coast and in states as far west as Michigan. Power lines are easily damaged by high winds, heavy rains and even lightning. A permanent standby generator is often viewed as the best option for homeowners to maintain power during and after severe weather, because it provides automatic, whole-home power during extended outages.

“When the power goes out, it completely changes the way you live,” says Ed Del Grande, a master contractor, syndicated home improvement columnist and host on the DIY network. “A standby generator can power an entire home during an outage, which means your life continues uninterrupted. This is particularly important for homes with small children, the elderly or home-based businesses.”

A standby generator is recommended by most professionals because it turns on automatically when power is lost from the utility and is permanently connected to the home like a central air conditioning unit. Because of this, homeowners do not need to be home to turn the generator on or have to go out into severe weather to set it up. The unit also connects to existing fuel lines in the home, running on propane or natural gas, and can power the entire home, including essential items like air conditioning, lights, refrigerators and freezers, security systems, electronic devices and more.

To learn more about standby power, visit KohlerGenerators.com to view educational videos and access a sizing calculator to determine what kind of a standby generator is needed for your home.

* Establish an emergency plan – Involve the entire family in your emergency plan, which should include details about the safest room in the home during severe weather, evacuation routes from the home and a predetermined meeting place in case your family gets separated during an evacuation.

As part of this plan, create a storm kit for your home and keep it replenished all summer long. To start a kit, get a plastic bucket or backpack and fill it with emergency supplies – water, first aid kit, flashlights and extra batteries, a radio, nonperishable food and cash. In addition, scan all of your important paperwork, like financial documents, insurance papers and birth certificates, and save them to a USB drive or CD. Once your storm kit is assembled, store it in a secure location in the home where all family members can access it. For more information and suggestions for building a storm kit, visit www.GreatHurricaneBlowout.org.

* Stay informed – During the summer, stay tuned to local weather forecasters when threatening weather is on the horizon and follow directions provided by local emergency officials to help keep your family and your home as secure as possible. Invest in a weather radio that alerts you and your family of potentially dangerous weather in your area. This is especially important when severe weather strikes in the middle of the night.

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