Your Place: Precautions to take before a storm, or the winter

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

I could use more tropical storms like the one we didnít get on Labor Day weekend.

I painted the outside of our house those three days, finished the yard work, and rebuilt the back gate, which works better than when it was originally installed 20 years ago.

Before I say something about the Weather Channel I may regret, Iíll say this: Every time mayhem is predicted, I think of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, and back to Aug. 19, 1955, when, as a 5-year-old, I watched my hometown wash down the river.

We were lucky this Labor Day. We may not be the next time, so Glenn Dickey, of Marshall Services in Skippack, Pa., has offered some preparedness tips.

This advice also works for getting ready for the winter. (You knew I wouldnít let you off the hook about that, didnít you?)

Dickey recommends performing a home audit from the outside first.

Examine the windows, shutters, gutters, drains and roof of your home. Make sure everything is securely attached, and that nothing could come off easily and become a projectile in high winds. Loose items should be fixed immediately.

Inspect the ground around your home for low or damp areas that could become flooded. If you have ever had a drainage problem, have a professional examine the trouble spot and address it.

Take a hard look at large trees surrounding your home, and note any dead or damaged areas. Have a licensed tree surgeon inspect any trees or branches that look as if they could damage your home or property and have them removed.

Consider purchasing a standby generator to maintain your basic needs during a power outage, and learn how to use it before itís needed.

Schedule a safety inspection of your house by a qualified electrical contractor.

Look at the interior of your home, too. Check the inside walls, carpeting, flooring, ceiling, windowsills, corners and basements for water damage or dampness.

Dampness means you have a water problem, either from an interior or outside source.

Better to know these things before the storm hits.