flood damageThe winter storm warnings for California are dire. According to reports, we all need to brace ourselves for El Niño and an onslaught of rain. But you say you don’t live in a traditional area for mudslides, and have never once seen a flood. Just remember how full the sewers get after a steady rain, especially when the ground is hard and not absorbing any water.

Of  course, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The National Flood Insurance Program (www.floodsmart.gov) has produced an excellent series of tips to keep your home and family safe.

  • Make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.
  • Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Anchor any fuel tanks.
  • Raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation.
  • Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
  • Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
  • If flooding occurs, go to higher ground and avoid areas subject to flooding.
  • Do not attempt to walk across flowing streams or drive through flooded roadways.
  • If water rises in your home before you evacuate, go to the top floor, attic, or roof.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio for the latest storm information.
  • Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if advised to do so.
  • If you’ve come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.

Check with your insurance professional about obtaining flood insurance and find out what your homeowners policy does and does not cover,. Don’t be caught short if you need to make a claim. Be proactive, not reactive.