The rainy season is coming. It is time to start preparing your property against the effects of heavy winter storms and wind. The first two steps you should take include evaluating your property and observing where excess water might cause flooding or damage, then mitigating any problem areas by making repairs and improvements. Read below for more details.

There are four major steps to prepare for this winter:

1. Evaluate Your Property for Winter Readiness
2. Improve, Make Repairs Where Necessary 
3. Create an Action Plan
4. Assemble an Emergency Kit
5. Sign up for Local Emergency Text Alerts & Notifications


1. Evaluate Your Property for Winter Readiness

  • Ensure your roof is in good condition. Have a qualified inspector check your roof. If you need repairs, now is the time to implement those repairs.

  • Clean and evaluate your gutters. Clear leaves, branches, and any debris from your gutters and run water through them to ensure they are clear and draining properly.

  • Check windows, decks, any outbuildings or sheds for damage.

  • Turn off any automatic water systems before rains begin.

  • Secure items around your property that could move in high winds, such as lawn furniture, potted plants, etc.

  • Trim bushes and trees. Pay close attention to distressed trees that could fall during high winds, and branches or limbs that are close to your home.

  • Inspect any fences for loose boards that could come loose in high winds, and check all exit and entry points.

  • Walk around your property and evaluate drainage points. The best time to do this is during a rain event, so you can see where potential problems are.

2. Improve, Make Repairs Where Necessary 

  • Make a list of repairs that need to be completed before major storms hit. Prioritize any repairs and improvements.

  • Do you need flood insurance? Even if your property is not mapped within a flood zone, but near a flood zone, FEMA is recommending you purchase short-term flood insurance for this year.

  • Prepare supplies to have on hand to protect your property. Collect sandbags, tarps, and large sheets of plywood (for covering windows or doors).

  • If you use a propane delivery service, ensure you have plenty of propane in your tank at all times.

  • If you don’t have a generator, now might be a good time to invest in one. Evaluate which appliances you would like to run if a power outage were to occur. Ideally, you will need a large enough generator to supply power to the appliances you need most.

3. Action Plan

Your action plan should be prepared and familiar to all members of your family well in advance of any strong storm event. Below is a checklist to help you create your plan.

  • Create an evacuation plan that includes a designated emergency meeting location outside the safety hazard area. This is critical to determine who has safely evacuated from the affected area. Design several different escape routes from your home and community. Practice often so everyone in your family is familiar with them. Don’t forget pets and livestock!

  • Have a family communication plan that designates an out-of-area friend or relative as point of contact to act as a single source of communication among family members.

  • Ensure your fire extinguishers are current and everyone knows how to use them.

  • Ensure your family knows where the gas, electricity, and water main shut off controls are located and how to safely shut them down in an emergency.

  • Have a portable radio or scanner so you can stay updated on the weather conditions and warnings.

4. Assemble an Emergency Kit 

  • Scan all important documents and save to a cloud service.

  • Create an emergency kit for your car. Road closures are common during storm events, so having a supply of clean water, snacks, blankets, first-aid items, medications, and flashlights will be handy if you find yourself spending the night in your car. Don’t forget food and pet medications if you have a pet.

  • Start creating a home kit with the major basics: clean water (3 gallons for each member of your family for at least 5 days), non-perishable food, medications, firewood, blankets, propane or camp fuel, batteries, and cash.

  • Have plenty of light sources such as candles, lanterns, and flashlights.

  • Solar-powered and/or battery-powered chargers for cell phones.

  • Radios and other communication devices.

  • Firewood

  • Important phone numbers, emergency numbers.

The Santa Cruz County Office of Emergency Services is a great resource for natural disaster preparedness.

For more ideas on what to include in your emergency kit, or where to buy pre-assembled kits, visit

We hope we inspired you to take steps to ensure you and your family, your pets, and your home stay safe, sound and dry this winter.

Your friends at GeoDisclosure