You need more than an umbrella to get through a stormy winter.
"We learned lessons after Hurricane Sandy, and it applies to the West Coast, too," said Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware's national home expert. "We're such an immediate society we want things now when we need them but it's a really good idea to have some emergency provisions around your house, even if just for a short term.
"Even in populated areas," he added. "Just look at the East Coast. Some sections of New York did not get aid for four or five days after the storm struck."
Lengthy power outages may be rare in Sacramento, but they're relatively common in some foothills and mountain communities. Also, coping with a lot of rain can be a lot of work no matter where you're located.
"Make a list now while it's fresh in your mind," said the Home Depot's Dave Koch, who lives in Carmichael. "What things did you need but didn't have when the last storm hit?"
Here are some suggested items for your family's storm preparedness:
Emergency radio and batteries: It seems so old-school a battery-operated AM/FM/weather band radio but it could be your lifeline to the outside world.
"I really like a model from Eton," Manfredini said. "It has a mini-solar panel to recharge the batteries and a hand-crank, too, if there's no sun. The bonus is a USB plug that lets you recharge your cellphone."
Priced under $60, Eton emergency radios are available at REI and online from Eddie Bauer, L.L. Bean and Amazon.com.
Flashlights (and more batteries): That's a given. But also consider other light sources such as camping lanterns or solar-powered tabletop lamps.
"You could be in the dark for a while, so think about your alternatives," Koch said. "Candles aren't the best solution; you could start a fire."
Bottled water: Keep on hand three 12- to 16-ounce bottles of water per family member per day. (Don't forget pets.) Have enough to last at least four days.
"That adds up to a couple of cases of water for most families," Manfredini said. "Rotate the water out every three months just drink it and stock fresh bottles."
Nonperishable food: Stock up on granola bars and canned goods; food that can be eaten without cooking or hot water. Put aside enough for three to four days.
Plastic tarps or sheeting: Get things you can't move covered quickly.
Rope, duct tape and steel stakes: Use those to tie down those coverings to keep them from blowing away in a strong wind.
Large black plastic trash bags: Like duct tape, a must for emergencies. Use them to protect and carry items in a hurry.
"You should always keep your important documents in a secure dry place," Manfredini said. "But what about your photo albums? That's the sort of thing nobody wants to lose. (If you have to evacuate), put them in a bag (for protection) and leave. The couch and other stuff can all be replaced."
Propane: Your backyard grill may become your stove.
Generator: This big-ticket item may seem like an unneeded expense. "The best time to shop for a generator is on a clear, sunny day," Manfredini said. "They cost $500 to $600, but you'll have it for the rest of your life especially when you need it most."
Look for a propane-powered generator, he added. "What people discovered during Sandy is that gas stations couldn't pump gas without power. But you can buy a pre-filled propane tank at the hardware store. Or just take the tank off the grill."
Consider a home- installed generator, plugged into the household's electrical system, that automatically switches on during outages.
"In the foothills and Tahoe, power can go out for a week at a time," Koch said. "These generators turn on as soon as the power goes out."
Starting at about $1,500, this type of generator can offer minimal coverage, just enough power for lights and the refrigerator.
"Or you can get one that powers the whole house," Koch said. "You can stay inside, warm and dry, watching TV like nothing happened."