Last-Minute El Niño Checklist
28 Sensible Things To Do To In and Around Your House.
It’s another balmy 80-degree day in Southern California.
Although Halloween is approaching, it’s hard to even imagine any rain. With an average year bringing us only 23 inches in all, a “rainy day” usually means some drops and some drizzle, just a percentage of an inch . . . and then it all disappears.
El Niño promises to be different. As the strongest storm pattern in 65 years, it looks as though El Niño will bring not only more downpours like what happened a couple of weeks ago — six inches (15 centimeters) of precipitation per hour! – but also day-long heavy rains. (“Heavy rain” is defined as between .39 and 2 inches per hour.)
This amount of rain will have a big impact – at the very least resulting in gutters rushing with water, small urban streams and canals overrunning their banks, and even larger scale flooding.
We normally make no “winter” preparations.
This year should be different. So here’s a checklist for Southern California residents, assembled from a number of sources.
Before the rains and winds come, check out your home.
Outside and around the house:
- Clean out drains; keep ditches and other water ways clear of leaves and debris.
- Check your landscaping for areas where water may pool. Can you re-grade, or at least add mulch or other absorbent material?
- Turn off your automatic sprinklers if rain is threatened.
- Be sure your vegetables are planted above ground in raised planters.
- If you have fences, lights, fountains, etc., store or tie them down. Fasten outdoor furniture so it can’t blow away.
- Move potted plants to a secure spot.
- Check with your neighbors if you think water may drain from their property onto yours. They are responsible for making sure water from their property flows into the gutter or other drain.
The house itself:
- Check for leaks or weak spots in your roof. Make sure no debris is caught in flashing.
- Clean out gutters BEFORE it rains and be prepared to clean them again after the first downfall.
- Seal holes in the walls/roof made by cables or wires.
- Check around window glass and on trim; fill in any gaps with sealant or paint.
- Check porch and porch roof slope; make sure water flows away from the walls.
- If your property is low-lying or likely to be impacted by run-off, know where to find sandbags, how to fill them, and how to position them.
- Store plastic sheeting and heavy clips for emergency covering.
Put together emergency provisions to get you through short or extended power outages.
- Store water, non-perishable food and batteries to power flashlight or other lanterns. NO CANDLES; they cause fires.
- Have warm clothing and blankets for when the temperature falls and you have no heat.
- Be sure to have a back-up battery or other back-up for electrical medical equipment.
- Emergency items will disappear off store shelves before or immediately after the storm, and afterwards you may not even be able to travel due to downed trees, power lines, etc. Do your shopping early.
Communications may be interrupted.
- Your phones may not work if cables are cut, towers topple as the result of landslides, etc. An “old-fashioned” hard-wired phone is a good back-up.
- Prepare a list of emergency numbers. (Your computer or cell phone may be out of battery.)
- Know where to tune for emergency broadcasts and official information.
- Know the non-emergency number for your local police and/or fire. Use it, not 911, unless it is a matter of life and death.
Prepare your car, too.
- Do you need new tires? Bald tires are even more dangerous on wet roads.
- Check whether your tires are properly inflated; lessen the risk of hydroplaning.
- Do you need new wipers? Don’t wait until you’re caught in a downpour to realize you can’t see clearly.
- Need a new battery? Don’t get stranded because the car won’t start.
- Put together a survival kit for the car: water, food, flashlight, blanket, emergency radio.
Consider flood insurance.
As with all insurance coverages, the devil is in the details. However, here are some general observations that may help you to decide if you need flood coverage, if only for this year . . .
- Flood insurance is not generally covered by regular homeowner policies.
- A separate flood policy covers damage from flood waters to property and/or contents. (Check on the definition of “water.”)
- Prices depend on the assessment of risk based on where you live. Premiums may range from $150 to over $1,500/year.
- “Twenty percent of people who file claims come from non-high-risk areas,” says Mary Simms, spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region IX, which includes California.
- Federal policies have limits that would easily be overtaken in California, where property values are high. Separate “extra value” policies would be necessary to cover the full value of an expensive home.
- A policy doesn’t cover living expenses if you have to leave your home while it is being renovated.
- FEMA makes flood insurance available through a number of partners. Its website is floodsmart.gov.
- It takes 30 days for any flood policy to become effective.
This is specialty insurance. Do your homework, starting with your regular agent. Then find and speak to someone who specializes in flood insurance, and finally get a third opinion.
One last thing to protect against the rain.
Oh, and don’t forget. Have a good umbrella handy! How could you go wrong with an umbrella with the name “RainStoppers?”?!
There are bigger “Rainstoppers” too – 54, 50, 62, up to 68 inches! Just click the link or the image above to get to the right place to start your search!
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
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