Flooding can be a devastating natural disaster, causing damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Extreme flooding, in particular, can be especially dangerous and challenging to prepare for. However, with some preparation and planning, you can increase your chances of staying safe and minimizing damage to your property. Here are some ways that you and your family can prepare for extreme flooding situations.
Find Out Your Flood Risk
Prior to any flooding event, one of the most crucial steps you can take is to research the flood risk of your home or rental. Researching the flood risk in your home’s area is essential for several reasons. It helps you understand the likelihood and severity of flooding in your locality, which can enable you to take necessary precautions and prepare for potential disasters. It also allows you to identify any potential flood hazards nearby, such as low-lying areas or water sources, and take measures to mitigate their effects. Knowing your risk also helps you determine the adequacy of your home insurance coverage and ensure that you have appropriate protection in the event of flooding.
If you’re looking at purchasing or renting a property, research the flood risk prior to putting a pen to paper so you can make informed decisions and ensure that you are choosing a safe location for your family to live. Calculate your flood risk by using the Flood Map Service Center on the FEMA website. All you have to do is plug in your home address, your work address, or where you plan to move.
Preparing For A Flood
Floods can occur suddenly and without warning, and their impact can be devastating. Taking the necessary steps to prepare for a flood can help minimize the damage and protect lives. Here are a few things you can do in preparation:
Did you know that the majority of homeowner’s insurance actually doesn’t cover damage from flooding? Flood insurance provides financial protection against these losses, covering the costs of repairing or rebuilding the property, as well as replacing damaged items. Without flood insurance, homeowners may have to bear the full financial burden of repairing or rebuilding their homes and replacing their belongings, which can be a significant financial strain. Purchasing flood insurance should be done well before a flooding event, as it takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect.
Before a flooding event, it is important to stay informed about the weather forecast, flood warnings, and evacuation routes. One of the best ways to do this is to stay tuned to your local news, the National Weather Service, or to make sure you have access to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) radio broadcasts, either online, or with a hand-crank radio. During a flooding event, it is equally important to stay informed about the flood’s progress and any updates or instructions from local authorities. This information can help you make critical decisions about whether to stay in your home or evacuate, and if so, which route to take.
Make A Plan
Making a plan for potential flooding disasters is critical in ensuring the safety of individuals and communities. A well-thought-out plan should include strategies for preparing before the flooding occurs, such as establishing evacuation routes and securing important documents and valuables. You can also use your planning time to build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, which should include a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies. Ensure that you have non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, and water on-hand, as well. If you have pets, keep an emergency kit for them that includes food and any medications they may need (in addition to your family). Your plan should also address immediate responses during the event, including how to access emergency services and safety measures to take, such as ensuring your vehicle has enough gas in case of evacuation orders. Additionally, the plan should outline steps for recovery after the flooding subsides, such as assessing damages and repairing any infrastructure or property.
Minimize Potential Losses
There are quite a few things you can do in your home to minimize potential damage and ensure you are prepared for any potential insurance claims you may need to make. Simple things, such as making an itemized list of your personal belongings (clothing, furniture, and any valuables you may have) and taking up-to-date photographs of the inside and outside of your home can be helpful. If flooding is imminent, move your belongings to the highest level of your home possible. Although it may take a bit more time and effort, you can also ensure your critical utilities, such as electrical panels, furnaces, and water heaters are anchored above the base flood level. Additionally, you may want to consider upgrading the sump pump in your basement to a battery-powered backup, in case power failure occurs. A sump pump is a device that helps move water from your basement to outdoors to ensure that water levels do not rise too high in your basin. Outside of your home, take time to clear your gutters and downspouts of any debris to avoid water pooling up. Having tools on hand (such as sandbags) at your disposal to act as a barrier, can help divert water from entering your home or building.
Safety During A Flooding Event
When a flooding event is occurring, obviously your number one priority should be the physical safety of you, your loved ones, and your furry family members. Remain informed by monitoring weather reports and emergency alerts, and be prepared to turn off any utilities if necessary. During a flood, avoid walking or driving through floodwaters, as they can be deeper and more dangerous than they appear. If you must walk through water, wear waterproof boots and test the depth with a stick before proceeding. Additionally, avoid touching electrical equipment or appliances that are submerged in water, as they can be extremely dangerous. If flash flooding is imminent, don’t wait for instructions, get to the highest ground possible.
Safety After A Flooding Event
After the floodwaters have receded, it is important to be cautious when returning to your home or community, and wait until authorities have given the signal to do so. First, avoid contact with floodwaters that may be contaminated with harmful bacteria or chemicals. Wear protective gear such as gloves, boots, and masks when cleaning up. Make sure to disinfect and clean any objects that have come into contact with flood water. Check for any structural damage to your home and avoid using any damaged electrical equipment. If there is standing water in your home, turn off the electricity and gas, and do not use any open flames or cigarettes. Ensure that your drinking water is safe by boiling it or using bottled water. Lastly, take photographs of the damage for insurance purposes.
Although natural disasters such as extreme flooding can be frightening, you may be able to help alleviate some of your worries through solid preparation and a detailed plan. The safety of you and your loved ones is the most important priority, of course, but by following these tips, you may be able to minimize any other damage that may come your way.