The lifeline for millions of Indian farmers, the south-west monsoon is expected to hit the Kerala coast on May 29, three days ahead of the normal arrival date, according to the recent announcement made by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). With monsoons just around the corner, now is the time to make sure that your home is prepped and secured for the rains up ahead.
This is important since the season can spell relief after a sultry summer, but can also throw normal life out of gear – causing immense hardship to citizens. We have seen it happening in the recent past: the Mumbai floods, Uttarakhand cloud-burst and more recently, the floods in Chennai and Bengaluru.
Start by identifying any loose hinges and gaps that are preventing your doors and windows from closing properly. Plugging them in time will prevent unnecessary damage caused by water leakages during thunderstorms. This is important especially if your south-west and west facing walls are exposed to the wind.
If you have metal-framed doors and windows, repaint them to avoid rusting as well as to stop the rain from seeping through them. Have wooden doors and windows properly fixed as they tend to swell up during the rains and may not shut properly afterwards.
Since the ceiling is often the part of the house most affected by torrential rains, roofs and terraces must be cleaned and coated with water-proofing to prevent seepage during the rainy season. Chajjas (overhanging eaves) will need to be cleaned (leaves and dirt often accumulate on them).
This is also important because electrical conduits can sometimes short circuit if they are flooded by water. If you live in an area that experiences heavy rainfall, chances are that it is already taken care of, but remember to check for its effectiveness every year.
The monsoon season isn’t a great time for your high-end rugs and carpets. Not only can they be soiled by dirty footwear, but they can also be prone to mold and mildew if the air remains continually damp. Thus, it is advisable to roll them up, cover in plastic sheets and store them in a dry area.
Also, set up umbrella and raincoat stands at the entrance. Not only are they convenient for both family members and guests, it will prevent water from dripping all across your living room floor.
Before the onset of the monsoons, try and get the local authorities to look for any possible blockages in the storm water drains around your house. It is difficult to work around blockages or get them de-silted when rains are at their peak and water has already started collecting.
Also, ensure that the drains and pipes in your house or building are not clogged and cluttered. If you have an in-house rainwater harvesting system, now is a good time to clean the filters, the rain separators and the storage systems.
Days in the rainy season are often cloudy and low on sunshine, so you may want to pack up your thick, opaque curtains and replace them with sheer, lightweight ones. This will let in more light and fresh-smelling air into your home.
Opt for lively colours such as yellows and oranges to brighten up your rooms while avoiding light shades such as white and beige — they are very difficult to keep clean and pristine during a muddy monsoon!
You are all pepped up to whip up a new dish and open your precious jar of spice mix to find the it all clumped up with moisture and missing on aroma. Disheartening, right? So store them well during monsoon.
Always ensure that kitchen ingredients are stored in airtight containers (ditch the plastic and go for glass jars). You can throw in a little raw rice into the container to absorb the moisture and prevent them from caking. Also, keep them away from damp areas or in direct contact with a concrete shelf (which usually get damp and cold in the monsoon).
Here are some other tips:
- To prevent biscuits and chips from getting soggy and limp during monsoon, wrap them in blotting/wax paper and store in a dry container. Before eating, put them in the microwave for a minute.
- Roast whole spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, pepper etc for a few seconds on the tawa, cool them and lock them in dry air-tight jars with a few cloves and a dry bay leaf each.
- Food grains like rice, wheat and pulses often get worms in monsoon. Sun-dry them for a few hours and microwave for a few minutes befores storing them. Do this at least once in 10 days. You can also tie camphor and neem leaves in a piece of cloth and put it in the jar to keep worms away.
- Vegetables often rot faster in the rainy season, so wrap them in newspapers and seal them in zip lock bags before storing to keep them fresh for long.
The havoc created by a heavy downpour can force many stores to decline their home delivery option. So make sure you stock up on enough drinking water and essentials like food, torches, candles and batteries as a precautionary measure. If there are infants at home, stock up on sufficient baby food.
Have a refill for your cooking gas cylinder ready and since power outages are also common in rough weather, ensure that your emergency lamp remains charged. Keep a first aid kit and prepare a disaster plan with emergency numbers like the municipality, ambulance, police and disaster management centres. Remember forewarned is always forearmed!
Monsoon season is the time when fungus attacks and termite infestations in furniture and fabrics are common. A natural way of ensuring protection against them is to put pouches containing camphor, cloves and neem leaves between clothes inside cabinets and closets.
To protect your furniture, try as much as possible to pull your sofas, wardrobe or cabinets a few inches away from damp walls. Oiling, waxing and sealing the edges with lacquer can also prevent your wooden furniture from absorbing moisture.
Some plants benefit from being moved outdoors in the monsoons, while it may be best for certain plants to be moved indoors. Also, if there are trees around your house, stake down the young ones for they may not be able to withstand torrential rain and strong winds.
Moreover, any big tree branches that are weak, have termites or are likely to snap off and damage your house must be identified and trimmed properly with the help of experts
Whether you like sipping a cup of tea in solitude or chatting with a friend over a plate of hot pakodas, cozy corners are must-have during the rainy season. So prepare one today and get cracking on the pile of books you’ve been wanting to finish.
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)