Protecting your home

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center just upgraded their prediction about the life span of the El Nino this year. Recently, the center was forecasting an 80 percent chance the cyclical weather pattern would persist throughout January and beyond. However, they have bumped that number up to 85 percent, according to its more recent calculation.

Experts try to make accurate assessments on El Nino's patterns, but it's a process, said Michelle L'Heureux, a meteorologist at the CPC, according to Insurance Journal.

"It is six months from the maximum impact," said L'Heureux. "This is our best guess at the time. The crystal ball is still cloudy, it gets clearer every month but it is still cloudy."

This particular weather system brings heavy storms with it as it touches down on the U.S. southwest during winter months, particularly in California. While the Golden State is currently suffering from a major drought and would readily welcome the increased precipitation, the weather pattern can potentially bring devastating downpours with it. These storms can lead to flooding, mudslides and other possible home-damaging accidents. While homeowners insurance can help cover the cost of repairs if a storm damages your home, you should consider preventative measures to protect your house and family. Not having to rely on insurance to cover the cost of repairs also helps ensure your premiums don't increase.

Here are five ways to protect your home during stormy weather:

1. Clean up outdoor items
Make sure all lawn furniture, gardening tools or sports equipment are cleared up if a storm is heading your way. A heavy storm can potentially pick up these items in a windstorm and send them flying through a window.

2. Trim the trees
Take time to examine the trees in your yard or surrounding your house. Storms can snap branches which can damage your home's siding or smash your car. Get up on a ladder and see how the branches are attached to the trunk. If the tree has a loose connection with a big branch, consider sawing the branch off. It might reduce some shade in the yard, but it can potentially protect your home.

3. Install storm shutters
No matter how many preventative measures you take in your yard and around your home, the turbulent winds and heavy rains of a storm can still do damage to your windows. Installing impact resistant storm shutters adds an additional level of security to the fragile glass planes.

4. Have standby power
Electricity lines are vulnerable during storms. Fallen branches can easily snap the power lines, and lightning strikes can blow up transformers, causing major power outages. House Logic recommended installing a whole house surge protector in case this happens. For more extreme weather patterns, consider purchasing a home generator to keep your power on in the event of long-term electricity outages.

5. Flood-proof your home
Heavy rainstorms can lead to flooding, which can potentially wreak havoc on homes. The water damage can devalue a house and cause significant problems with the foundation. According to Westerra Real Estate, if a 2,000 square-foot home gets even six inches of floodwater in it, this can cause approximately $40,000 in damage. If you live in areas with a high probability of flooding, there might a chance your homeowners insurance does not cover the repairs. No matter where you live though, no one wants to deal with water in their home. Dry flood-proofing the house by making the foundation watertight with concrete, or consider wet flood-proofing the house by making the necessary changes to allow floodwater to enter the house to minimize the damage.

CoverHound provides homeowners insurance quote from its easy-to-use and convenient website.

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