Floods are one of the least sexy, but one of the most common, natural disasters in the United States. Sometimes they’re local, and sometimes they’re on a massive scale. Sometimes they happen slowly, and sometimes very quickly (the latter are known as “flash floods”). They can have various causes, ranging from tropical storms, melting snow, heavy rain, broken dams and levees, or even construction work.
So although it can sometimes feel like you’re drowning in a flood of information, don’t get caught being wet behind the ears when it comes to this topic. Dive in and learn everything you need to know on the topic of flood preparedness.
BEFORE A FLOOD
Have A Plan
There are a few things you can do to prepare before a flood. The first is to have a family action plan. Does everyone know what to do in the event of a flood? Is there a way everyone can be reached? If you’re separated, does everyone know where the meet up spot at higher ground is?
Have An Emergency Kit
Prepare an emergency kit filled with items to help you in an emergency. Make sure it’s easy to find, and easy to carry. You’ll want to be able to grab it as you’re heading out the door should you need to evacuate.
Something to keep in mind is that losses due to flooding are not covered in most insurance policies. You need to purchase flood insurance seperately. It is available in most communities, and the premiums will depend on what area you live in and how prone it is to flooding. There is a 30 day waiting period before the policy comes into effect, so be sure to purchase it well ahead of the time when flooding is most likely.
Educate yourself on the flood risks of the area you live in. FEMA offers flood hazard maps for each community in the Unites States. Shop around in the off season, and find a fair flood insurance plan for the area you live in.
DURING A FLOOD
During some disasters, it makes sense to prepare your home, and bunker down within when the S hits the F. That isn’t the case with a flood. If you’re in the path of a major flood, there isn’t a whole ton you can do except see it coming early and head to higher ground.
Keep tuned into the radio or television during times when a flood is possible. If there’s a chance of flash flooding (flooding that happens very quickly), you should grab your kit and head to higher ground immediately. Do not wait to be told to evacuate- it will probably be too late by then.
Know of any streams or drainage channels in your area- these are most likely to flood first. Avoid them.
Turn off all utilities at the main switches or valves before leaving. Disconnect all electrical appliances.
Avoid walking or driving through water deeper than 6 inches. Water this deep can make you fall, and can cause vehicles to stall or loose control.
The more water is moving, the more dangerous it is to try and walk or drive through it.
IF YOUR HOME HAS BEEN FLOODED
Only return when your area has been deemed safe.
Avoid exposure to flood waters. They could be contaminated with sewage, gasoline, or other contaminants.
Do not drink from the local water supply until it as been deemed safe to drink.
Be cautious entering any buildings, as there may be structural damage after flooding.
Turn off your electricity at your main breaker/fuse box before beginning cleanup. You’ll want the power off until you know your house is dry enough.
Print a copy of the Red Cross’ Guide To Preparing Your Flooded Home. It will tell you everything you need to know to get your house back in working order.
Good luck and stay prepared!