Nine Steps to Prepare for El Niño

  • December 16, 2015

El Niño is predicted to bring heavy rainstorms and flooding to California. It’s important to plan ahead and be prepared. Follow these tips to help ensure that you and your loved ones are safe and comfortable when El Niño hits SoCal.

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1. Preparedness Kit

Make sure your preparedness kit includes flashlights, batteries, cash and first aid supplies. Check out this preparedness kit checklist from our friends at the American Red Cross to make sure you have everything you'll need in your supply kit. 

2. Emergency Apps 

Make sure you and your phone are prepared for an emergency or an outage. Check out the emergency apps from American Red Cross to help you be prepared for an emergency or major disaster, such as floods or earthquakes. You should also download My SCE App on your iOS or Android device to make sure you have outage updates at your fingertips. 

3. Inspect Your Car

Make sure your windshield wipers are working and check your tire tread. An easy way to test your tire tread is by doing this simple penny test

4. Prepare Your Home

Clear your gutters and outdoor drains. Keeping your gutters clear can help eliminate the risk of water damage from having clogged gutters. If water flow is not possible, it can accumulate water in areas of your roof, basement, cause rusting and lead to an increased risk of decay, moisture and leaks. Now is a good time to clean the gutters around your home.

Also, be sure to use a sturdy ladder, be aware of your surroundings and stay at least 10 feet away from power lines. Sandbags can also be used to help protect your home and property before a storm. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also urged Californians to buy flood insurance or at least rate their flood risk by visiting The agency also reminds residents that there’s a 30-day waiting period between purchasing flood insurance and the time the insurance goes into effect.

5. Trees and Vegetation

Prepare now for stormy, winter weather. Submit a tree trimming request if you observe trees or other vegetation that are dead or dying and leaning into overhead power lines. 

6. Watch for Downed Wires

Severe weather can cause power lines to fall. They can electrify puddles, wet grass and the surrounding area. Never approach a downed wire, or anyone or anything in contact with it. Stay away and call 911 immediately. 

A downed wire doesn’t always spark or hum. Always assume a downed wire is energized. Coming into contact with electrical wires can cause serious injury or even death.

7. Use a Flashlight

Keep a flashlight handy because using candles during an emergency or outage poses a high fire risk. 

8. Watch Traffic Signals

Watch for traffic signals that may be out and approach those intersections as four-way stops. Remember that if your windshield wipers are on, your headlights should be on as well. 

9. Secure Trash and Debris

Make sure to secure trash and other items that have the potential of blowing or floating away. 

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Comments (7)

  • stacy rozell Not all fire stations provide sand bags. Locations can be found on the fire departments websites. Attached is the one for la county. They typically put the bags out and you have to fill them.

    January 07, 2016
  • Vanessa Vollmer

    Do all Fire Departments have sand bags? Or is there another place to go?

    December 20, 2015
  • Lea aheron

    Note left out of suggestions. Keep car full of gas. And stock house and car with emergency items. Would not hurt to have a rubber raft handy if possible

    December 19, 2015
  • Janis Horn

    If a power line comes down on my house, is it a safety or fire hazard to inside occupants? Can it spark and cause a fire?

    December 18, 2015
  • Jill Anderson

    The old RR trail and the steep rise behind it (above it) are eroding behind my house (7608 Pepper) and on toward Baseline. There are deep crevasses as it gets higher and houses and their yards are perched over them. Is anybody monitoring that erosion??? It gets worse as it gets closer to Hellman (Baseline).

    December 18, 2015
  • stella dickerson

    To add to the list, I suggest the following: 1) Especially if you have young kids, always have flashlights (& extra batteries), emergency ponchos, snacks & water, & perhaps something to keep the kids entertained in the car just in case you get stranded somewhere for a few hours. 2) Even if you're very familiar with the streets you're driving on, if you see that it's flooded, never underestimate the power of the rushing water, just stay put or just turn back if possible. 3) At home, make sure you have lots of extra drinkable water & canned food set aside just in case you can't get to the store to buy food during the storms, especially if you have young kids at home. 4) Never take any unnecessary risks during the storms.

    December 18, 2015
  • Delfina

    I live in Port Hueneme California, where can I pick up free sandbags? 1446

    December 18, 2015

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