Cole Hardware Hotline Online
 flood Winter Storms Preparedness Tips

from the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services

    Winter storms in California can be deadly, causing flooding, flash floods, high coastal surf, mudslides, snowstorms and avalanches. A bad storm can catch you at home or on the road -- be aware of the potential dangers of winter storms, no matter where you are. For information on the history of winter storms in any area, contact the local Office of Emergency Services or the nearest National Weather Service (look in the Government section of the telephone book).     These agencies also offer preparedness information.

    One of the often-overlooked aspects of natural disaster preparedness is getting in touch with your neighbors. Folks who have lived in the area for a long time are probably the richest source of information on past winter storms -- they'll remember what needed to be done to protect their families and property from these storms. And if a bad storm strikes, you may at some point need to call on your neighbors for help -- so it's good to start the communication now.

    Also be sure to establish an out-of-area contact ahead of time (someone far enough away so they probably won't be affected by electrical and telephone outages in your area). An out-of-area contact is someone you can call after a storm so others can learn of your condition and location.

Prepare Ahead of Time
  • Keep insurance policies, important documents and other valuables in a safe-deposit box. Be prepared to take your personal things with you (just what you can easily carry) in case you need to evacuate your home. Keep car and house keys handy.

  • Check your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy for flood insurance coverage. Most insurance policies do not offer protection against flood losses. If you are in a flood-prone area and want to establish insurance protection, contact your local insurance agent or call the National Flood Insurance Program at (888) CALL-FLOOD.

  • Store emergency supplies at work, at home and in your car. Make sure they are easily accessible and stored in watertight bags in a watertight container. (If you already have earthquake survival kits in these locations, you're all set.) The bare essentials are:

    • First aid kit, including essential medicines.

    • Food (packaged, dried, canned, or food for special diets) for three days. Don't forget food for pets.

    • Warm clothing, including rain gear.

    • A multitool or knife with can opener attachment.

    • Cash, in small denominations.

    • Portable radio, flashlights and extra batteries.

    • Sanitation supplies (large plastic bags, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.)

  • Drinking water in plastic jugs -- one gallon per person per day for three days.

  • Keep your automobile gas tank full.

  • Know safe escape routes from your home or office, and know ahead of time where to seek refuge.

  • Keep emergency building materials handy -- sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, etc. -- for waterproofing your home.

During a Bad Storm
  • Tune in to local radio or TV for information and advice. If a flood warning is issued and you are told to evacuate, do so as quickly as possible. Before leaving, disconnect all electrical appliances and, if advised by your local utility, shut of electric circuits at the fuse panel and gas service at the meter.

  • If flooding is possible and time permits, move valuable possessions to the upper floors of your home.

  • Avoid unnecessary trips -- but if you must travel, dress warmly and tell people where you are going. Avoid areas prone to sudden flooding. Do not drive over flooded roads or around barricades. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately.

  • Do not try to walk through flowing water where the water level is above your knees.

After the Storm
  • Do not turn household gas back on yourself -- wait for a utility crew.

  • If you are in doubt about the safety of your drinking water, boil or purify it. Do not eat food that has come in contact with flood waters.

  • Don't sightsee in disaster areas -- you'll probably get in the way, and you may endanger yourself.

  • Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet areas. If electrical equipment or appliances have come in contact with water, have them checked before use.

  • Avoid downed power lines and broken gas lines, and report them immediately to the utility company or local authorities.

  • Use flashlights -- not lanterns, matches or candles -- to examine buildings; flammables may be inside.

  • Stay tuned to local radio or TV for further information or instructions.

- Hardware Hotline  February, 1998