ByAli Sahabi of Optimum Group, LLC
President, Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter
The popular myth goes that early filmmakers first set up shop in Southern California to evade paying the Motion Picture Patents Company for infringing on Thomas Edison’s invention. However, Hollywood actually became the film capital of the world after director Francis Boggs in 1907 shot movie scenes along the coast and realized his home state’s weather was far more accommodating to filmmaking than New Jersey or Chicago.
Thanks to our abundant sunshine and mild winters, California has gone from agricultural powerhouse to entertainment capital since that day 110 years ago. Yet, while Southern California weather is still the state’s biggest attraction in terms of industry and population, the fact remains that being a homeowner in Southern California requires preparation for our occasional severe weather events or those caused by weather such as wildfires. While today’s state-of-the-art new homes and new home communities are built to the highest safety standards in history with the latest in scientific innovations and designed in conjunction with your community’s public safety professionals, one of the most important aspects of homeownership is to protect your investment in the home that will protect you and your family from these events.
So before you put away the Boogie Boards and beach towels and start pulling the winter wear out of the closets, take some time to make sure that your home will be protected from the changing seasons in the months ahead.
Start by inspecting your insurance policies to make sure you’re covered for losses incurred as the result of a natural disaster or extraordinary storm conditions. Flooding and earthquake damage is generally not covered by your regular homeowner’s policy but can be purchased separately. Make lists or videos of your belongings as documentation for the insurance company and keep that documentation in a safe location away from your house such as a safety deposit box.
Inspect your yard and remove all dead and dying limbs from your trees. Then secure lawn furniture, trashcans, flowerpots and other yard ornaments that can take flight during a major wind event. Prepare to cover or relocate any lawn furniture, grills, potted plants and other lawn accessories you don’t use during the winter months. Secure larger items such as sheds, doghouses, playhouses, swing sets and/or boats.
Especially for older houses, roof work is another essential step in preparing your house to withstand a severe weather event. Hire a contractor to check for the structural integrity of the roof system. Once it passes inspection, apply sealing around your home’s chimney or vent pipes to prevent water from seeping into your home. While the days are still long and dry, clean out clogged gutters and downspouts to protect your home’s foundation from flooding and structural damage.
Seal windows, cracks, entry doors and garage doors. Wind funneling through your house pushes upward, trying to lift its roof. You can purchase and install special storm shutters to cover your windows or you make your own set of shutters out of three/quarter inch marine plywood or metal storm panels. Make sure they overlap the windows on all sides by four inches. Then mark them so you know which window they fit. Shutter panels for skylight window can be easily stored and used when necessary and will protect your home from rainstorms accompanied by high winds.
For double doors, French doors and sliding patio doors that have no structural device between them. You may want to consider installing special hardware to more adequately secure the doors where they meet. Try bolts that fasten the door into the framing at the top and the bottom.
Then, stock your cupboards and closets with anything you might need during a major weather or seismic event. Keep a battery-operated radio, several flashlights in case you lose electricity and plastic sheeting to cover exposed areas. Remember to fill your drawers with brand new packages of live batteries so the flashlights are certain to work. Stash bottled water, canned foods and other non-perishable food items in your cupboards in case you’re trapped in your home for a while and can’t get out to the supermarket. Remember to pile blankets into your closets in case you lose electricity and/or gas service.
The Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter seeks to advance the opportunity to attain the American Dream of homeownership. For more information, visit www.biabuild.com on the web.