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Home and Property Preparation, November 4, 2015

  1. Yard Clean up – Make a general inspection of your entire yard area for dead trees or dead limbs, yard debris, outdoor furniture, or other objects that could be blown by storm winds. An afternoon spent tidying up the yard and either storing furniture and other loose items indoors or securing them can prevent a frantic scramble to collect items that have landed on your roof or in your neighbors’ yards.
  2. Drains and Gutters – Gutters are your roof’s first line of storm defense. They’re designed to channel rain off the roof. Make sure all drains and gutters are cleared of debris and functioning properly before the storm season. If buildings do not have gutters and drains, consider having them installed. Storm water runoff from impermeable surfaces (e.g., roofs, driveways, and patios) should be directed into a collection system to avoid soil saturation.
  3. Roofs – Inspect your roof, or hire a roofing contractor, to check for loose or missing tiles and shingles, leaks, holes, or other signs of trouble. Also inspect for gaps or loose flashing around chimneys and other roof intrusions.  Repair all trouble spots and have waterproof tarps on hand along with ropes to secure them in place just in case.
  4. Windows and doors – Repair weather stripping and any leaks to keep the rain out. Caulking also helps keep heat indoors and cold, wet weather out.
  5. Direct the flow – An inch of rain adds up to 600 gallons per 1,000 square feet of roof. Install removable downspout adapters and flexible drain coils to the gutter system’s downspouts to guide water away from the foundation.  Prevent water from collecting around the foundation.
  6. Determine trouble spots – Water tends to collect in low spots, which can lead to flooding. Keep that water from entering your home or garage with sand bags. Have them ready and set in place before rain starts.   Sandbags are a fast way to redirect water. Each layer of sandbags represents 3 to 4 inches of added flood protection.  For best coverage, stagger sandbags in an overlapping pattern like brickwork
  7. Retaining Walls – Visually inspect all retaining wall drains, surface drains, culverts, ditches, etc. for obstructions or other signs of malfunction, before the storm season, and after every storm event.
  8. Slopes – Visually inspect all sloped areas for signs of gullying, surface cracks, slumping etc. Also inspect patios, retaining walls, garden walls, etc. for signs of cracking or rotation. Such signs might be indications of slope movement and if you notice any problems, it would be prudent to have the site inspected by a geotechnical engineer.
    6. Bare Ground – Make sure your yard does not have large bare areas, which could be sources for mudflows during a storm event. The fall is a good time to put down mulch and establish many native plants; it may be possible to vegetate these bare areas before the storm season.   Burlap cover may also be used for erosion control.  Take advantage of fallen leaves; use them as mulch around plants.
  9. Storm Drains – Visually inspect nearby storm drains, before the storm season and after every rain; if the storm drains are obstructed, clear the material from the drain or notify the Department of Public Works or public agency responsible for drain maintenance.
  10. Trees – Besides dropping leaves, they may drop limbs – especially if those trees have been weakened by drought. Consult an arborist and evaluate trees before storms hit.
  11. Follow-up and Other Concerns – If, after taking prudent steps to prepare your property for winter storms, you still have some concerns about slope stability, flooding, mudflows, etc., consider stockpiling sandbags and plastic sheeting. The sandbags can be stacked to form a barrier to keep water from flooding low areas. Plastic sheeting and visqueen can be placed on slopes and secured with sand bags to prevent water from eroding the soil.
  12. Secure Heavy or Fragile Items – Secure water heaters, major appliances, tall heavy pieces of furniture, hanging plants, mirrors and picture frames to the wall studs. Store breakables, heavy objects, flammable or hazardous liquids, including paints, pest sprays and cleaning products, in secured cabinets or lower shelves.
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