If the words El Nino cause you to run for your umbrella or start filling sandbags, you’ve probably experienced the heavy rains or floods the weather system can cause. El Nino can wreak havoc, and there are steps you should take to prepare your home for El Nino in 2015.
El Nino, a disruption in the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific which leads to weather and climate changes around the world, can cause flooding, high tides, and large waves. El Nino has caused catastrophic destruction in previous years.
Some especially bad El Nino years:
- 1983: Over $1 billion in damages were reported in the state of California after the storm and high tides caused major coastal erosion.
- 1998: In February of that year, eight inches of rain fell on San Diego, causing flooding of streets, rivers, and low-lying areas.
This fall and winter could be especially rainy in the U.S., if predictions on El Nino are correct. Lots of rain means a potential for flooding, so be prepared by learning flood hazard information specific to your location through FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center.
How to prepare your home for El Nino 2015
Above average rainfall due to El Nino can cause flooding, trigger mudslides, and lead to major coastal erosion. Whether you live in a beautiful coastal home, or inland, stay ahead of the storm and prepare your home for El Nino in 2015.
- Fix leaks before it rains
The time to fix leaky roofs isn’t after the El Nino rains have begun. Stay ahead of the game by checking your roof for leaks now. If you or your spouse aren’t comfortable climbing onto your roof—or you can’t do it safely—call a roofer or handyman to check the roof. Have him or her see that the flashings are clear of leaves and debris, and that rainwater will flow off the roof and into the gutters.
- Clean out gutters and downspouts
Gutters clogged with leaves, debris, mud, or dirt won’t do you much good when it rains. Before El Nino arrives, clean out your gutters, and consider installing gutter shields. Also check that gutters are attached tightly, and are snug against the roofline. Check downspouts for clogs, and make sure they are directing the water away from your home.
- Loosen compacted soil
If the ground outside your home is dry or compacted, it won’t act like a sponge when the rain finally does fall. It will repel water initially, which can be a problem if there’s a lot of rain. Combat this by using a rake to loosen the soil, or by tilling in compost and covering areas with mulch to enable the ground to better absorb the rain.
- Secure your yard
When floods and high winds are on the way, you’ll want to prepare your yard to weather the storm. If you have a fence, check its sturdiness and reinforce posts or sections that aren’t stable.
Then take a look around your yard with an eye trained for anything that could become a flying or floating hazard during a storm. Put away all lawn and garden tools, children’s toys and games, and other moveable items. Store outdoor furniture, grills, and smaller potted plants inside your basement, garage, or shed.
If furniture can’t be moved, use wood planks to lift it off the ground so it doesn’t become damaged by floodwaters. Also cover glass-topped tables with plywood, and secure the plywood with cordage.
- Have flood-fighting supplies on hand
Be prepared for flooding by getting sandbags, concrete edgers, and straw wattle tubing in advance. Store them somewhere easily accessible, like your garage or basement, so they’ll be ready when you need them.
Use these items to divert floodwaters away from your home when the rain gets really heavy. Sandbags can also be used to prevent erosion if you have a hilly yard. Straw wattle is available at home centers and hardware stores.
Free sandbags might be available in your area. If you live in the following cities, click the links to find out if sandbags are available:
- County of San Diego: Bring a shovel and get free sandbags at the listed fire stations
- Los Angeles County: Find a fire station near you providing sandbags
- Check your insurance policy
Is your insurance plan up to snuff when it comes to flooding? Standard homeowner insurance policies don’t typically cover flooding. If you live in an area that could be affected by heavy El Nino rains, upgrade your insurance policy.
Also check out the National Flood Insurance Program for property owners. Make sure you do it well in advance, as it takes 30 days for flood policies to go into effect.
- Make a disaster kit
Be prepared for anything nature throws your way by making a disaster kit for your home. Include items like flashlights and batteries, blankets, a first aid kit, lanterns, water, and food, could all come in more than handy if disaster strikes.
To learn more about how to stock your disaster kit, read 8 safety must-haves for every home.
Start now by battening down the hatches at your house. You’ll be happy you took the time to prepare your home for El Nino in 2015.