By Eric Brandt
What's worse than being hit by severe weather? Being ill-prepared for it. And, truth be told, most of us are frighteningly underprepared. According to a recent Esurance report, only 25 percent of Americans proactively prepare for damaging weather events. Given the record-breaking natural disasters in 2017, bracing for storms may be more critical this year than ever.
Luckily, there's smart technology available that could make getting ready for Mother Nature much easier. From preparation to recovery, here are a few ways smart home tech can help make natural disasters less disastrous:
Look Into Smart Irrigation
Smart irrigation systems are designed to optimize watering schedules using hyperlocal data. This helps plant life stay healthy and not become combustible brush. Plus, smart sprinklers do more than make your lawn look good; they can be a key defense in keeping your home safe—especially if you live in wildfire country.
Smart sprinklers have been known to stop advancing wildfires. In 2015, one homeowner activated his system remotely. Using video cameras, he was able to employ his sprinklers strategically and keep oncoming flames at bay.
Smarten Up Your Sump Pump
Sump pumps can be effective at stopping floods; however, in order to properly safeguard your home, they have to be in working order. Many homeowners find out too late that their sump pumps are kaput or inadequate—because, honestly, who has time to check theirs regularly?
Fortunately, some smart outlets can do that for you. Smart outlets plug into your sump pump directly, sync up with a Wi-Fi hub and keep an unwavering eye on your sump pump's condition, day and night. If it detects any issues, it'll send a push notification to your smartphone. This means you'll know if your sump pump is up to snuff before the next big storm hits.
Install Leak Detectors
Damage resulting from burst pipes is a common homeowners insurance claim. The most common cause of burst pipes? Freezing temperatures.
Once a pipe starts to leak, thousands of dollars in damages can accrue in minutes. Smart leak detectors help identify telltale signs of leakage—either excessive moisture levels in the home or freezing temperatures in your pipes. This allows you to act before the problem escalates and some devices can even automatically shut off your water when a leak is detected.
Smarten Up Your Smoke Alarms
The smoke from an overcooked panini and a legitimate stove fire often provoke the same ear-piercing sounds from your traditional smoke alarm. But a smart smoke alarm can distinguish between burnt toast and a chimney fire, and will alert to each with different sounds.
Smart smoke systems can tell you which room is smoky, in addition to alerting you to carbon monoxide levels and air quality issues. What's more, you can get alerts on your smartphone, allowing you to turn off the alarm—or call the fire department—remotely, depending on the severity of the situation.
Get Tornado Alerts
Whether you live in Tornado Alley or not, many of us are all too familiar with just how destructive—not to mention volatile—tornadoes can be, which is exactly why they necessitate as much forewarning as possible.
New in-home tornado detectors are designed to discern tornado-forming weather patterns half an hour in advance. These come with alarms and lights and provide real-time tornado location updates right to your smartphone, giving you enough time to prepare or evacuate.
Have a Recovery Plan in Place
Smart home systems can mitigate the disastrous effects of extreme weather, but having home or rental insurance is absolutely critical in picking up where you left off. Homeowners coverage not only helps pay for damages to your home and belongings; it may also help with temporary living accommodations in the interim.
Speaking of smart technology, it's a good idea to create a digital record of any upgrades you've made to the home, as well as an inventory of your personal belongings before you actually need them. This can help ensure your coverage is up to par and make the claims process that much faster.
When it comes to the unpredictability of nature, preparation is always your best defense. The right technology in combination with the right homeowners insurance can help you both prepare for and recover from whatever comes your way.
Eric Brandt has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry. He currently serves as chief customer advocate for Esurance, where he leads the customer experience, including claims fulfillment. Brandt shares his knowledge on all things related to homeowners insurance, from best coverage practices to extreme weather prep. To learn more about Esurance's homeowners insurance options, click here.