20 Ways to Prepare for El Nino This Winter
According to The Weather Channel, the news, everyone I talk to at the bank, the supermarket and the dry cleaners, El Nino is coming this winter whether we like it or not.
What the heck is El Nino, you might be asking? It's a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean that they're predicting will likely cause lots of rainfall and cooler temperatures in the West this winter.
As a resident of sunny Southern California, preparing for lots of rain is not something we do, well, ever. But if all the experts are correct, it's something that we all need to add to our to-do lists pronto.
As a new homeowner in Los Angeles, I’ve been working my way down my El Nino prep list, so I wanted to share all my tips so you can get ready, too.
1) Check Your Roof
If you've been dragging your feet on any necessary roof repairs, it's time to kick things into high gear. If you've not had your roof inspected in awhile, make an appointment and have someone tell you what type of repair you're dealing with. Hopefully, everything is in good shape. But if any repairs are needed, now is the time to address them.
2) Clean Your Gutters
Before the rain starts, make sure that all of your gutters are cleared of all leaves, branches and any other debris. Plus, it's a good idea to check them again after the first big rainfall and remove anything that may have fallen back in.
3) Invest in a Generator
If you're at all concerned about possible power outages, consider adding a generator to your property. If you're looking for a less permanent option, you should think about adding a portable generator.
4) Check Your Exterior Paint
Water can be carried directly into the wood of your home through cracks in your exterior paint. Visually inspect your home to ensure that no cracks exist. If you find any, grab some paint and touch them up.
5) Inspect Your Windows
Loose window panes could allow rain to come into your house, so make sure all of your windows are securely in their frames. Recaulk anywhere that's needed.
6) Call Your Exterminator
If your home hasn't been exterminated recently, call to make an appointment as soon as possible. Extreme rainfall can bring out insect invasions, particularly ants and termites. You'll want to make sure your home is prepared before the rains start. Consider booking regular appointments throughout the winter months just to be safe.
7) Check Your Drainage
Our home in Los Angeles is on a hillside which means I've had to get myself a down-and-dirty education on hillside drainage. I've worked extensively with our landscaper to ensure that we have a drainage system that moves all water away from our home and down the street.
If your home is located on a hill, make sure you speak with your above-the-hill neighbors in order to better understand how the drainage works in your area. If you have concerns with your property, call a reputable landscaper and get an estimate for adding some additional drainage.
8) Neighbor to Neighbor
If you don't already have your neighbor's contact information, including home phone and cell phone numbers, make sure you get those in case any emergencies should arise.
9) Check Your Deck
Double check to ensure that there is no rotting wood and that all drainage is established (and flowing away from your home).
10) Check Exterior Lights
Make sure that all your exterior lights are in good working order. Replace any bulbs or fixtures. If there are areas of your home or outdoor space that are in need of additional light, call your electrician to get those installed.
11) Check Your Shed
Double check that these spaces are air tight and will not allow any water or leakage to occur. Make sure any items stored outdoors (not in a shed) are covered in weatherproof tarps.
12) Turn Off Your Watering System
If you have an automatic watering system that is managed with a timer, you likely want to consider turning it off before the rainy season starts. Have your landscaper check that it's in working order.
13) Trim All Your Trees and Bushes
The rain will likely bring some severe winds. Inspect your property with your landscaper to ensure that all of your trees and bushes are properly trimmed. Pay special attention to any branches that are located close to your roof, windows or any other part of your house.
14) Inspect Your Fence
Carefully inspect your fence to ensure that there is no rotting or corrosion. Make sure there are no loose pieces, and if so, secure them or replace. Check all gates, entrance and exit points.
15) Secure Your Property
Store or cover any outdoor furniture, removing pillows and cushions for safe keeping. I would suggest you even store items that are covered in outdoor fabric. Based on the amount of rain that is being predicted, you will have much better luck storing these items in a safe, dry place.
Are there any other loose items around your property that could blow around if there are high winds? If so, move, store or secure them.
16) Do You Have Flood Insurance?
Now is the time to reach out to your insurance agent and ensure that you have the proper coverage for your home. Check that you're covered in the case of a flood (and if not, consider adding that coverage), and that all other homeowners insurance is in order.
17) Scan All of Your Important Documents and Photos
Make sure that all of your most important documents and memorabilia are stored in a safe place. Ideally, you'll want to consider getting all of these items scanned, stored in the Cloud and on an external hard drive for backup purposes.
18) Have Sandbags on Hand
After identifying potentially problematic areas on your property that might be affected by flooding, make sure you take proper precautions. Have some sandbags on hand in case you need them to divert water once the heavy rains start.
19) Create an Emergency Kit
Make sure you have an emergency kit on hand -- just in case. You'll want to make sure you have plenty of water, non-perishable food, a battery-operated flashlight (and extra batteries), a first-aid kit, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, cell-phone charger packs and chargers, and contact information for your friends and family (just in case you're unable to access your cell phone). Don't forget to include supplies for your pets such as food, treats, blankets, etc.
20) Identify Utility Cut-Offs
Make sure you know exactly where all of your utility shut offs are for water, gas and electricity.