“A failure to plan is a plan to fail”. There are no truer words when it comes to surviving a disaster such as a flood. That said, with nearly 30 million Americans impacted by flooding each year, a critical part of survival and recovery is the ability to formulate and execute a disaster preparedness plan.
At a Moment’s Notice
While you can’t possibly predict when a flood will impact you, your family, and your home, there are necessary steps to take to minimize loss and damage. Almost 90% of US disasters involve flooding, and with all fifty states being plagued by disastrous flooding, it pays to be prepared. Read on to see how you and your family can take proactive measures to minimize loss and reduce the chances of injury.
Know Your Level of Risk
Being knowledgeable in the weather trends specific to the area you live in is essential for flood plan preparation. This can include knowing a bit about the area in which you live. This will give you information about past flooding events, weather patterns, and other factors. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, take the necessary precautions to prep your family and your home for such an event. As severe weather approaches, check local disaster reporting sources as well as national institutions (FEMA) for more information and tips.
Sign Up for a Community Alert System
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are valuable resources for you as you seek to stay in the know about current conditions and perceived threats that may affect you and your family. Sign up for email and text alerts, as well as calls, to stay informed and up to date about the latest weather and flood conditions in your area.
Craft an Evacuation Plan….or Two
Since when does any disaster unfold exactly as planned? Having conversations with your loved ones about evacuating will be a critical part of staying safe during an emergency. When preparing, take the following into consideration as you plan and have at least a couple of alternate routes for your evacuation:
- Map out evacuation routes and write them down for all family members. Keep this in a safe, watertight location. Make sure that all family members know where these evacuation routes are kept.
- Purchase a weather radio and listen to channels that currently report on weather and road conditions in your area.
- Run evacuation drills to ensure that you are efficient and timely in your preparation and execution of plans.
- Ensure that supplies, pets, and food are all accounted for during an evacuation plan.
- Research and purchase flood insurance to protect your home.
Flood Proof Your Home
While your home cannot be completely “flood-proof,” you can take steps to minimize damage and protect valuables from water damage. If you know that you are living in a known flood zone, consider adding water-resistant flooring and wall treatments to basement areas. Additionally, have an electrician move electrical outlets and wiring well above the flood zone in your home. Additionally, elevate appliances and HVAC systems to a safe level if possible.
Install a sump pump with a backup power source to ensure that rising water can be removed from your home. Consider installing backflow valves in toilets, sinks, and plumbing to ensure that toxic floodwaters don’t enter your home through water systems. If possible, move furniture and valuables to a higher level in your home to protect them from water damage.
Prep Outside Your Home
Gather and store outside valuables in a more secure location such as a shed or storm shelter. These include lawn furniture, bikes, and children’s toys. If you have an external oil or fuel tank outside your home, do what you can to secure it to the ground outside your house. This is because this heavy object could do serious damage to surrounding structures if it were to get swept away.
Clear Drains and Downspouts
Floodwater on the ground isn’t the only thing to prepare for during inclement weather. Other necessary preparations include downspouts, gutters, and drains that are clogged with debris, dirt, and leaves can add to your flooding problem by pooling in areas that allow access to your home. These areas include the roof, walls, and your basement. When clogs happen, clean out gutters, drains, and downspouts regularly to avoid the problem of excess water backup.
Turn Off Water and Utilities
When preparing for a flood, unplug as many appliances as you can from their wall outlets. Next, remember to turn off the main power, gas, and water to your home if you must evacuate. If you are sheltering in place and floodwaters pool inside your home, fill sinks and bathtubs with water before shutting off utilities for adamant water access.
Take Necessary Supplies with You When You Leave
If you must evacuate, take all necessary supplies with you to ensure that you remain as comfortable and safe as possible. Next, pack these items in go bags ahead of time, and make sure all family members know what to grab in case of an emergency. If you don’t have a list of necessities, here is a quick list of some to remember:
- Nonperishable food items and snacks.
- Clothing for all family members.
- Any necessary medications.
- Clean drinking water.
- Pets and pet supplies.
- Valuables that you don’t want to be left behind.
- Cell phones, electronics, all charging cords.
- Important documents and papers in waterproof containers.
It’s important to remember to only take the bare necessities. This is because you don’t know how long you’ll be gone or when you will be able to return for more supplies. Bring what you must and know that the rest is replaceable if you do experience loss of property and damage to your home.
Purchase Flood Insurance for Peace of Mind
The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a flood is to purchase a comprehensive flood insurance plan. This will protect you and your loved ones from catastrophic loss. Flood insurance is not covered with a traditional homeowner’s policy; it is supplemental yet necessary coverage that provides peace of mind that your assets are protected. Neptune Flood is in the business of getting you back on your feet as quickly as possible after disaster. At Neptune, we have many plans to fit your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Contact our team for more information.
Original article published April 2018. Updated content and references April 2022.