Preparing your home for winter storms

Technically winter is still weeks away, but we have already seen several big storms move through Western Washington.  Forecasters predict a "La Nina" weather pattern, which Pemco Insurance experts say can mean more wind and rain than we would usually see.

The key to avoiding damage is to prepare long before the storm hits.  First, check your property for any trees or branches that might be wind-vulnerable.  If you're not sure what to look for, you might want to call an arborist out to inspect.

Second, make sure your summer stuff is stowed away.  Patio furniture, barbecues, umbrellas, and even awnings should be stowed away so they aren't damaged by rain and snow, or tossed around by the wind.

Third, pick up some bottled water and non-perishable food, just in case the power goes out.  You will also need to keep a four-day supply of any critical medication, and make sure your flashlights and radios have working batteries.  Pemco says you should not plan to rely on candles when the power goes out, because there is a risk that they could cause a fire.

When a wind storm does hit, you might hear branches coming down, or things being thrown around your yard.  Pemco says by the time that happens, it's already too late, and you should stay safely indoors until the wind dies down.  If a tree lands on your house, take a good look at the roof before you go into any affected rooms.  Insurance usually covers anything that is damaged by a falling tree, and it just isn't worth putting yourself in danger to rescue something that can be replaced.