Los Angeles Firefighters Urge Storm Safety and Preparedness

Friday, November 4, 2022

Before rain occurs in Southern California, the Los Angeles Fire Department encourages residents to take the simple steps necessary to protect themselves from injury and their property from storm damage.

Those living near recent brush fires should be aware of the extreme danger possible from debris flows.

When rainstorms impact the Los Angeles area, storm drains, canyons, arroyos and other low-lying areas can quickly fill with fast-moving water and debris, creating a life threatening danger.

It is against the law to be inside a flood control channel at any time.



  • Ensure that your drains, gutters and downspouts are clean and functioning properly. This is especially important for flat-roofed buildings.
  • Keep stormwater troughs, pipes and culverts on your property free of debris.
  • Move valuable or easily damaged items away from low-lying areas prone to flooding.
  • Secure patio furniture, household waste, trash containers, chemicals, spills and outdoor storage before they are swept away, spread contamination or block storm drains.
  • Closely examine windows, skylights and doors that may benefit from caulking or weatherstripping.
  • Inspect your attic for "leaks" of sunlight, or signs of previous water damage that may indicate where pre-storm repairs are needed.
  • Establish household supplies (bucket, mop, towel and tarpaulin) to minimize damage from a sudden leak or stormwater seepage.
  • Prepare your household to remain safe (battery powered lamps, no candles) and functional (fully charged cell phone, manual garage door operation) in the event of a storm related power outage.
  • Review how to safely turn off your home's electric, water and natural gas service in the event of severe storm damage.
  • If your tap water source is compromised or questionable due to storm damage, be prepared to drink only from your safe bottled water supply. 
  • Put the Flood Safety and other free Mobile Apps from the American Red Cross on your smartphone.
  • Discuss your Family Emergency Plan, including what every member of the family will do in the event of a flood or mudslide.
  • Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit that includes food, water, medications, flashlight, battery-powered radio, rain gear, first aid and sanitation supplies.
  • Photograph and itemize household possessions, including receipts for major items. Store duplicate records safely off-site. 
  • Gather important documents including identification, and prepare prescription medicine, computer, cash (small bills) and credit cards in case of evacuation.
  • Confirm out-of-state family contacts so that friends and relatives can determine your location and status.
  • Consider the safety of those with disabilities or access and functional needs.
  • Plan for the needs of pets at home and if you are evacuated. Those with large or multiple animals are encouraged to prepare for early evacuation.
  • Identify multiple safe routes from your home or workplace to high ground or other safe zones, and practice your evacuation plan.
  • Have sturdy, sensible shoes with nonskid soles for use in a rainstorm. Pack an umbrella, small flashlight and rain coat.
  • Check your car's wipers, lights, tire inflation and tread wear to assure safe operation, and keep your vehicle fueled in case power is cutoff to local fueling stations.
  • Be prepared to monitor local news for official warnings, evacuation orders and the status of streets, highways and transit systems.
  • Be aware of local driving laws, and how to operate your vehicle safely or use public transit in conditions altered by weather.
  • Turn off your yard sprinklers, and lower the level of your swimming pool to prevent overflow and flooding.
  • Determine if your home is located in a flood hazard or landslide prone area.
  • Landscape slopes with plants that are fire retardant, water wise, suitable for erosion control and allow for smart water retention or reuse. Consider the temporary use of plastic sheeting on slopes prone to erosion.
  • Large trees that could threaten your home or family should be examined by a certified arborist qualified in tree risk assessment, and not a garden-variety landscaper. 
  • Confirm that any hillside on your property has been evaluated by a licensed soil engineer.
  • If necessary, consult an engineer or licensed contractor to design or build permanent water and debris control systems for your property.
  • Contact your insurance agent to assure that your flood and storm coverage is adequate and in effect. Confirm the 24-hour contact, policy and claim filing numbers for your insurer(s). Place that information in your mobile phone and keep a printed copy in the glove box of your car.
  • Keep sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, hand tools and other materials handy for addressing additional stormwater issues.

To assist Los Angeles residents with extreme storm needs, the Los Angeles Fire Department provides free ready-to-fill sandbags at every Neighborhood Fire Station, with sand* also available for free at select locations.

* Sand may be desirable, but local soil can also be used to effectively fill sandbags. While the LAFD is pleased to offer free ready-to-fill sandbags and free sand, the Department is not able to fill, deliver, install or remove sandbags.


  • When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
  • Limit non-essential travel, and avoid the urge to sightsee.
  • Remind all household members not to play or linger near catch basins, canyons, flood control channels or storm drains.
  • Do not walk through flowing water. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
  • Drowning is the leading cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods to those on foot or in vehicles.
  • Never drive through a flooded area where you cannot see the pavement, or bypass road barriers.
  • If you become stranded in your car by moving water, stay with your vehicle and move to the hood or roof if water continues to rise.
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. Deadly electric current can travel through water.
  • Report downed power lines in the City of Los Angeles to the Department of Water and Power (1-800-DIAL- DWP). If the downed wires threaten life, call 9-1-1.


City of Los Angeles residents should call 3-1-1 or (213) 473- 3231, use an on-line form or the MyLA311 app to report potholes, downed street trees, damaged or inoperative street lights or traffic signals, clogged street drains and any storm-related property damage or issue requiring an inspection or action by City of Los Angeles officials.


If you become a victim of storm or floodwater damage, please visit LAFD.ORG for helpful flood recovery tips.

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