El Nino is the name we most often associate with the seasonal weather phenomenon which is threatening California this winter. Actually it’s full name is “El Nino Southern Oscillation”, or ENSO for short. It’s a tropical weather pattern that occurs roughly once every three to seven years. This year it is predicted to be quite heavy. In the northern hemisphere, the main concern with ENSO is flooding. The flooding associated with ENSO can be emotionally and financially devastating for many families. If an ENSO weather pattern is predicted, there are steps you can take to help prepare your home and family.

As with any natural disaster this is quite unpredictable so it might pay off to play it safe and be prepared.

Make an itemized list of personal property, which includes clothing, furnishings and valuables. Take photographs of your home, both inside and out, and store in a safe place. This will help an insurance adjuster to settle any claims and to help prove uninsured losses.

Prepare a cache of emergency supplies. This includes keeping a set of emergency cooking equipment, food, fresh batteries, flashlights and portable radios in good working order. If you live in an area prone to flooding, keep a steady supply of plywood, plastic sheeting and sandbags to protect your property.

Purchase flood insurance ahead of time. Often, flooding is not covered under natural disaster insurance, and will require a separate insurance policy specifically for flooding. Contact your insurance provider about flood insurance. Don’t wait until the rains come to apply! Most insurance companies have a 30 day waiting period before this policy can be effective. Keep your insurance policies and itemized list of personal property in a safe location.

And should it become a worst case scenario, form an evacuation plan. The key to surviving an El Nino flood is to learn the safest route away from your home to a safe area, in case you need to evacuate in a hurry. Without an evacuation plan, you might turn from evacuees into refugees.