With one big storm already in the books for this California El Niño season, it’s clear that the rain will most likely be as strong as experts have predicted.
This is great news for the California drought, but has the chance to create trouble for flood prevention systems and local neighborhoods. Preparing your house, your yard, your car, and your insurance now is the best hedge against a potentially strong and unpredictable season.
Here are the top 10 things that we suggest you do to prepare for a wet El Niño season.
1. Collect Storm Supplies
- Water Bottles (The Red Cross recommends 1 gallon per person, per day).
- Food Storages
- Flashlights & Extra Batteries
- Candles and Lighters
- Toilet Paper
- Wireless Cell Phone Chargers
- Wireless Battery-Powered Radio
2. Prepare the Exterior of Your Home
First thing you can do is prepare the exterior of your home for the rainy season. Do this before it starts to rain as recent heat may have caused structures to shrink, causing previously unknown leaks and damage to your home.
- Fix leaks in your roof: Most roof leaks occur at flashing connection points, so make sure the flashing is free of debris. If you have an attic, check to make sure there are no puddles of water as this is a clear sign of a roof leak.
- Clean storm gutters thoroughly: When gutters and downspouts clog with leaves and debris, water overflows and spills down where it can damage walls and footings.
- Purchase a generator: This is very important if your neighborhood is susceptible to frequent power outages during storms.
3. Prepare Your Car
Not many people can afford to stay at home while an El Niño storm passes. We all have to get to work and drop the kids of at dance recitals or karate practice. That means your car needs to be ready for El Niño as well.
- Check your tires: Maintaining solid contact with the road during the rainy season is important to staying safe. TireRack.com recommends that tires be well above the legal limit of 2/32″ of tread depth remaining. Replace your tires if they are anywhere below 6/32″.
- Purchase new windshield wipers: Wipers can make a huge difference in visibility and safe driving during a big storm. Click here for the top wiper choices on Amazon.com.
- Test your car lights: Make sure your low-beam, high-beam, and fog lamps (if you have them) are all working at 100%. The last thing you want is low light while driving a storm.
- Have your breaks checked: Rainy weather can often mean unexpected stops on the open road or in traffic. Have a mechanic test your vehicle to make sure your breaks are performing.
4. Create a Plan
Creating a plan on what to do in an El Niño emergency is important for both yourself and your family. Here are some things to consider when creating a plan:
- Make sure everyone in your home has access to emergency telephone numbers, emails, and social media accounts to communicate.
- Designate a first point of contact to check in with and a place to evacuate to if family members are separated.
- Talk to your neighbors to come up with a communication plan if the power were to go out.
5. Prepare Your Insurance
Consider purchasing flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) even if you’re not in a high-risk area.
“20% 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.
Flood damage from excessive rain is not covered in a typical Homeowners Insurance Policy. Your local insurance agent can check your home address and let you know exactly which “flood zone” you are in and how much Flood Insurance would be to purchase.
Remember that flood policies take 30 days to go into effect and so you’ll want to give yourself some time.
There is no better time than now to prepare for El Niño.