Preparing for Mudslides

Mudslides or landslides can happen in any location where the right conditions exist. If your home is on a hill or the side of a mountain, or along a canyon wall or other type of slope, the potential for a mudslide exists. They’re commonly caused by flash flooding or earthquakes, and there’s no way to predict when one will happen.

Stay Alert

Pay attention to the landscape near or on your property, especially during heavy rainstorms or flash floods. Look for natural areas where a lot of runoff occurs. If smaller mudslides happen in some locations, it’s an indication that a larger one could happen there in the future. Also keep an eye on the places where more than one runoff stream converges, because this can lead to mudslides as well. A particular sign to watch out for is trees that start to tilt, or look like they’re starting to tip over. If the land under your property is shifting, it can lead to cracks in your concrete driveway or sidewalks.

Landscaping Tasks

You might want to consider doing some mudslide mitigation on your property. Planting trees can be a way to stabilize a hillside. This takes a lot of time, effort and money. It can take years for the trees you plant to develop adequate root structures to stabilize the ground, and all of your efforts could be wiped out in the course of a single flash flood. Consider your options carefully before trying this method.

Vehicle Maintenance

In the event of a catastrophic landslide in your area, you may have to evacuate your home. You don’t want the vehicle maintenance tasks that you’ve been putting off to slow you down in this situation. Do regular maintenance and tune-ups on your car or truck. Consider purchasing a four-wheel drive vehicle if you don’t already own one. If roads are washed out in a mudslide, you may need it to get out.

Preparing Your Home

There’s also a possibility that roads in and out of your community will be cut off by a landslide. Electricity could be knocked out for days or weeks, and store shelves could be depleted very quickly by people who aren’t prepared.

You should build up emergency supplies to get ready for this contingency. Purchase non-perishable foods in bulk, such as grains, beans and rice, which have a shelf life of several years if they’re kept in a cool, dry place. Survival food in #10 cans has a long shelf life as well. Make sure you have a system in place to purify water, because flash floods or mudslides can contaminate wells and groundwater. Other supplies you’ll want include are: a hand-cranked radio, extra batteries, baby wipes, a first aid kit, extra medications or prescriptions, waterproof matches and long-lasting candles.

A mudslide can cut off communications, power and supplies for an extended period of time. You may be on your own until emergency workers can get the roads cleared and the electricity restored. Take the necessary steps ahead of time to make sure you’re prepared in case a landslide occurs.