Did you know that all 50 states in America experienced floods, or flash floods, in the last five years? You are at risk no matter where you live. In fact, flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States. Flooding can not only cause serious damage to your home and community but it can also be deadly. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for a flood both before and during.
Are you at risk?
Even though all 50 states have had flooding in the past there are some areas that are a lot more prone to see these natural disasters. It’s important to know how at risk you are. Be sure to check out flood maps for your region. You should be checking to see if you are in a flood plain. You may be more at risk if your home is below flood elevation.
Have a plan
It’s absolutely imperative to have a plan in case of a natural disaster. There are several things that should be included in your flood plan. Be sure you prepare this plan before the flood. The better prepared you are the more likely it is that you and your belongings will be safe.
- Have an evacuation route: There is more than just knowing how to get out of your house in case of a flood. You’ll also need to know how to safely get out of your neighborhood. Try to stick to higher ground. You can figure this out by surveying the area in which you live or looking at maps to calculate elevation. If severe enough you may also want to plan how to get out of your town.
- Determine a safe spot: After you evacuate you’ll need a place to go. Your community may already have a designated location in case of emergencies. Be sure to check out your individual community’s information. If your town does not have a location, or if you are unsure, you should choose a spot of high elevation that is easy to get to.
- Know/practice the plan: If you are a parent, or caring for a loved one, you’ll want to be sure everyone knows the plan. It’s like a fire drill in schools – be sure to practice so that if, and when, you need to evacuate everyone is on the same page and can act accordingly. It’s important for children to remain calm. Also, don’t forget to include your pets. In the case of an emergency you will need to be sure you are accounting for any and all animals you are responsible for.
Prepare an emergency kit
In the case of a true flood emergency you will want an emergency kit. This kit can simply be a box of necessities you will grab on your way out the door. Items may include non-perishable food, water, high-protein snacks, essential tools such as a knife, paracord, and screw driver. You will also want to include a flashlight, extra batteries, a cell phone charger, as well as a spare set of house/car keys. Many companies make pre-made survival kits that may be an easy solution. Depending on the needs of your family you may also be including pet food or medication. Hygiene items should also be included in the emergency kit. Travel sized toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo and body wash are a few necessities. Again, depending on your personal needs you may also want to include sunscreen, bug spray, and other items to protect you and your loved ones from the elements. Rain ponchos are another great item to include in your emergency kit. Another item that might come in handy are emergency phone numbers. These can be laminated or stored in a sealed bag in case they get wet. Emergency numbers may be important when trying to communicate with others if you do not have access to your cell phone.
Have a person of contact
You should have someone, preferably out of state, that is your contact person. This is someone you can check in with periodically so that they can contact others. This way it is not necessary to communicate with numerous people in times of an emergency. All you’ll need to do is communicate with one contact person and they can follow the predetermined channels of contacting others if needed. This person may also be given copies of your important documents such as birth certificates, insurance policies etc. If you are not comfortable letting someone else have access to these items then be sure to keep them in a safety deposit box or in your emergency kit.
Obtain flood insurance
Many high risk areas require that you have flood insurance. Even if it is not required of you it may still be a good idea to have this coverage. It may be more expensive if you are in a higher risk area. Your typical homeowner’s insurance does not include flood insurance. It will need to be obtained as a separate policy.
Ready your home
There are several things to do if you are in the midst of a flood and you are preparing to leave your home.
- Unplug electronics: Be sure none of your electronics remain plugged in. This includes both small and large items. Toss out food and perishables before unplugging your refrigerator.
- Move items of value: Move all your valuable items to the highest location. This may be on a table or bed or even in the attic. The higher the items the less likely they are to be damaged. If possible, raise electronics as well to prevent damage.
- Turn off the power: If you are planning to leave your home you will need to turn off the gas, electric, and water to your home.
- Lock up: Lock your doors and be sure you have an extra set of keys just in case. If you are leaving behind a vehicle you will want these to be on the highest elevation and locked as well
Listen to updates
It’s important to be able to listen to any and all meteorological updates. These can be usually be accessed from your smartphone or a radio. It may be a good idea to keep a radio and extra batteries in your emergency kit if you do not have access to a smartphone.