It’s Time to Protect Your Home Against Severe Weather, Seismic Event

By on September 19, 2019

By Phillip B. Burum

Had an earthquake not rattled Southern California 250 years ago during the first expedition of Spanish conquistadores, San Bernardino, rather than San Gabriel, might have become the site of the mission that would serve as the epicenter of development in Southern California. Nearly a hundred years later, an El Nino condition flooded the Santa Ana River to the point it carried more water than the Mississippi River and completely wiped out two entire settlements. The fate of development in San Bernardino seemed doomed the following year when a devastating three-year drought began, wiping out entire herds of cattle and making local settlers wonder if the area could be tamed.

It would be hard to imagine our region as a barren wasteland, lying undeveloped due to the harshness and unpredictability of the weather. Thanks to the perseverance of a few early, and potentially overly optimistic, settlers the Baldy View region not only survived, but thrived, seemingly in defiance of the whims of mother nature.

It will likely be a very long time before we see the banks of the Santa Ana or Mojave River flowing like they did in 1862 but heavy storm flows, enigmatic periods of drought and daily seismic events are part of life in Southern California.

For most Americans, the home is the biggest and best investment they will ever make, so it is crucial for those us who spend most of the year basking in our mild Mediterranean climate, defending our home from the harsh elements is of paramount importance.

The first step in preparing for the changes in weather is to visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website, which provides a toolkit with downloadable resources, reports and guides. These resources will help you to prepare, plan for and stay informed about natural and man-made disasters.

Then, take a few basic steps to protect your home. Start by trimming back any plants that touch the home as they provide a path for unwanted intruders such as spiders, ants or termites. With the winter holidays coming up, make sure that your shrubs and trees don’t provide convenient cover for burglars or package thieves.

Often overlooked in preparing for the unthinkable is ensuring that you are ready to resume your regular life once the emergency period passes. Protecting important records and other documents should be job number one. Ensure that you have all of your important documents in one safe place – one that your family members or a trusted friend can locate immediately in the event of an emergency.

Keep all document originals in one location, with backup copies stored in at least one additional, equally secure place. A Safe Deposit box or a fire- and waterproof-box that can be locked and is small enough to carry is a good way to keep documents nearby and safe from damage or theft. Store copies with a family member or trusted friend. Scan originals and save them on a portable storage device such as a flash drive.

Critical documents that you should be able to quickly access include:

  • Passports, birth certificates and social security cards
  • Insurance policies, policy numbers and contact information
  • Copies of wills, living wills, powers of attorney and healthcare proxies
  • Bank, retirement and investment account numbers and contact information
  • Titles to vehicles or homes and sales receipts or proof of ownership of other high-value items,
  • Loan or debt obligations such as mortgages or credit cards, account numbers, balances and contact information.
  • Medical histories, physicians’ contact information, dental records, past years’ tax filings, and Internet account user IDs and passwords.

Videos are a good way to record your material possessions. They will help you remember everything and prove ownership for insurance claims in the case of an emergency. Be sure to get close-ups of serial numbers and talk about the purchase date and price of each item as you record.

If it turns out that Hollywood is prophetic, and we are all doomed to a ‘Day After Tomorrow’ scenario, storing your documents is probably futile. For those that are slightly more optimistic about the fate of our world, however, taking the above noted simple steps will help mitigate the long-term impacts of an unforeseen, albeit non-apocalyptic, event.

The BIA Baldy View Chapter seeks to advance the opportunity to attain the American Dream of home ownership. For additional information on homebuying, home improvements or the benefits of homeownership, go to on the web.

Phillip B. Burum is Vice President-Land at D.R. Horton and Board President for the Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter.