Preparing your home for rain

Insurance concept - house under umbrellaIt’s important to prepare your home before El Niño hits. Protect your family, your property, and your wallet by taking action now:

  • Review your current homeowners insurance policy and become familiar with what is and is not covered, as damage due to flooding is typically not covered. Should you decide it necessary, call your insurance agent to purchase flood insurance for your home (and business) and its contents.
  • Make a flood plan and plan evacuation routes.
  • Itemize and take pictures of possessions.
  • Caulk cracks around windows and doors to prevent water from seeping inside.
  • Check old caulk every year for chips and cracks, which indicates the caulk has dried out and needs replacement.
  • Check trees in your yard and remove any dead branches which could fall during heavy rain and cause damage.
  • Remove leaves, branches, and debris from gutters and drains. Otherwise, water could overflow and rot the woodwork around the roof area.
  • Plug sewer traps with check valves – special valves that direct water in one direction only – thereby preventing it from backing up into your home. You can purchase these at a hardware store, or improvise by using large corks or stoppers to plug sinks and tubs in an emergency.
  • Lower the water level in your swimming pool so it is less likely to overflow during heavy rain.
  • Turn off automated sprinkler systems when rain is expected.
  • Have a flashlight, batteries, and a first aid kit on hand, in case you get stranded in your home.
  • Ask your local planning and zoning office whether your property is above or below the flood level, and find out if your area has a history of flooding.
  • Keep important documents – including insurance policies, birth certificates, and passports in an easily accessible waterproof box.

Up on the Roof

Before wet weather hits this winter, head outside and inspect your roof from the ground for warning signs of damage, sagging, and aging. If you see anything, call a roofing professional immediately so problems don’t arise once precipitation arrives. Once winter weather hits, do a second inspection. This time, look for signs of leaks inside the house.

Give your gutters some love

The clearer your gutters are now, the better you’ll fare come heavy rains. That means removing leaves, goop, dirt, and debris from your gutters by hand. Once winter weather hits, regularly inspect your gutters to ensure there is not a blockage of debris stopping the flow of your gutter.

Stock up on food

When storms hit, it can be difficult to get to the store. We’re not suggesting stocking up on perishables, but it will help if there’s something edible in your pantry when you’re stuck because of weather. Don’t forget bottled water. A good rule of thumb is to have enough food on hand to feed your family for a week.

Prepare for a long power outage

Winter storms often mean extended power outages. To prepare, take the time to find and inspect your electrical panel now, so it’s easy to find when the power goes out. Also, make sure you have fresh batteries in your flashlights and be sure the flashlights are easily accessible. We recommend placing a few candles in heavily trafficked rooms with matches or a lighter right next to the candles. Remember never to leave lit candles unattended.

Prepare your contractor list

If a winter storm damages your home, the last thing you want to worry about is scrambling to find a decent contractor. Instead, take the time now to put together an A-team list, so you’re ready in case something does go wrong. Once it’s prepared, put it somewhere easily accessible.

Anticipate the needs of your pets

While you’re preparing for your family’s safety and comfort during a winter storm, don’t forget about your pets. Take a week and track everything that you need for your pet. How much food does he or she go through in a week? What about medications? Make sure that you have plenty of everything to keep your pet healthy.

Make sure your pets’ tags are up-to-date. Storms can be disorienting for pets when they’re outside, so make sure that there is a way for someone to help return your pet to you if it is lost.