You can’t predict a flood, but you can prepare for it. Floods are the worst and costliest natural disaster — more destructive than hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes. Climate change is making floods worse by increasing the risk of heavy rainfall.
Ninety percent of all US national disasters are floods. They plague all 50 states, inland and coastal areas, low elevations and high. One in five flood insurance claims come from low-risk zones.
Yet, according to the Insurance Information Institute, only 12 percent of US homeowners have flood insurance. Wherever you live, it’s wise to be prepared for a flood. Here’s what you can do before flooding happens to your home.
No homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers floods, so you’ll have to buy separate flood insurance. This type of insurance protects your home and possessions during a disaster. It’s available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). You can buy NFIP insurance if you live in one of the program’s participating communities.
The NFIP offers two types of policies. Keep in mind that the policy won’t go into effect until 30 days after purchase. This could spell trouble if a flood happens within that month. If you buy flood insurance from Neptune Flood, you won’t have to worry about when your insurance will kick in — we have a reduced waiting period of only 10 days.
You can get one or both types of insurance:
• Building property coverage. The maximum structural coverage limit is $250,000. It pays out on a replacement cost basis (the cost of repairs in today’s dollars) for a primary residence and actual cash value (the value factoring in depreciation) for a vacation home. Building property coverage can help protect:
— Detached garage used for limited parking or storage. You can use up to 10 percent of your total building flooding insurance coverage for your garage, but that amount will be deducted from your total available building coverage.
— Essential home systems (central air and heating, furnaces, water heaters, sump pumps and solar energy equipment)
— Appliances (refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, window air conditioners, freezers and the food in them)
— Carpeting and window treatments (permanent carpeting over an unfinished floor, window blinds and curtains)
— Permanently installed paneling, bookcases, wallboards and cabinets. Your policy will only cover the damaged cabinets, so you may have trouble getting new cabinets that match the undamaged ones.
Wouldn’t you like property coverage that’s higher than $250,000? Neptune Flood provides the protection you need for up to $2 million.
• Personal contents coverage. The maximum coverage limit is $100,000. This policy pays out on an actual cash value basis, which takes into account an item’s current, depreciated value. Personal contents coverage helps protect:
— Some portable appliances
— Freezers and the food in them
— Valuables such as art (up to $2,500)
Neptune Flood trumps the NFIP with personal contents coverage up to $500,000.
It also pays to know what’s not covered by flooding insurance:
— Additional expenses, such as temporary housing.
— Property outside of the insured building, such as decks, fences, swimming pools and hot tubs.
— Currency, precious metals and valuable documents such as birth certificates.
— Damage caused by earth movement, even if that movement is caused by flood.
— Vehicles and their parts.
— Moisture, mildew or mold damage that happened due to a property owner’s negligence, not because of the flood.
Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Shield Your Home from Potential Flood Damage
First and foremost, make sure to get flood insurance from Neptune Flood. It’ll only take three minutes — or less. You should also consider doing the following to protect your home:
• Leave the basement and lower floors unfinished.
• If you’re doing a new build, use flood-resistant building materials.
Concrete is exceptionally strong and rigid. Concrete walls can be covered with stucco or siding. If you want a more industrial, raw look you can leave the concrete exposed. These are the advantages of concrete houses:
1. Concrete can be pummeled and endure extreme weather much better than other houses would.
2. Concrete homes are built to last.
3. Concrete is non-combustible, unlike a wood-framed house.
Steel-framed houses are built similarly to wood-framed houses. They use stud walls as bearing walls for the house, although the detailing is different. These are the advantages of steel-framing:
1. Steel is non-combustible.
2. Buildings with steel framing, sheeting, roofing and trim can endure intense flooding, heavy rains, earthquakes and strong wind.
3. It’s resistant to corrosion.
4. Steel lacks wood’s porosity, so it doesn’t absorb moisture, weaken or rot.
5. Since steel doesn’t seep or absorb moisture, exterior paint won’t be damaged.
6. Steel doesn’t warp, twist or shrink.
7. If a metal-frame house does suffer flood damage, it can be restored much more easily than a wood-frame house.
There are also other ways you can brace your home against the worst:
• Have a licensed land surveyor conduct a full architectural survey of your property, with topography. Afterwards, see if your land has high areas which could be prime locations for your home.
• If you’re doing a new build, elevate your entire house on columns that are at least six feet high.
• Raise your water heater, washer, dryer, oil tank, furnace and any electrical wiring onto concrete blocks, above the base flood elevation (BFE). If you can’t raise these items, you can protect them with a floodwall or shield.
• Install flood shields or built-up barriers for basement windows and doors. The tops of the shields and barriers should extend above the BFE.
• Keep sewer lines from backing up by installing standpipes or backflow valves.
• Install a sump pump system if you have below-grade floors.
• Landscape with native plants that resist erosion. Here are some:
1. Autumn sage
2. Sulphur buckwheat
3. Apache plume
4. Wild lilac
1. California live oak
2. Flowering dogwood
3. White alder
4. Lodgepole pine
Avoid using grass for erosion control. Many varieties of grass can actually worsen erosion, so other groundcovers are a safer choice. Also, avoid highly flammable plants. These include:
— Leyland cypress
A flood map is a tool that can help you understand, hypothetically, your area’s flood risk. Flood maps are meant to heighten awareness about potential floods in specific regions. They’re user-friendly and accessible at FEMA’s online service center.
Simply type in your entire address, and their system will generate a highly detailed topographical on-screen flood map, along with a precise legend regarding your area’s flood risk. Keep in mind that a flood map is only a guideline, not a predictor. Floods can happen anywhere, but some areas are particularly vulnerable to them.
First Aid Lessons
Floods are life-threatening events with effects so catastrophic that first responders may not immediately reach you. You can provide vital first aid care until they arrive. Red Cross first aid lessons will help prepare you for emergencies when time and knowledge are of the essence.
When you take a course, you’ll get a two-year certification and access to refresher courses. Classes are OSHA-compliant. You can learn:
• First aid
This training includes:
— Asthma emergencies
— External bleeding
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training gives you the skills needed to help during cardiac emergencies that affect:
— Cats and dogs
AED (automated external defibrillator) training.
Most offices and public buildings are equipped with AEDs. Defibrillators are medical devices that analyze the heartbeat and then normalize it by sending an electric shock to the heart.
After you call 911, it will take about eight to 12 minutes for first responders to arrive. In severe conditions, where they may be overwhelmed by emergencies, you’re on the frontline. For every minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival reduces by approximately 10 percent. Classes will teach you how and when to use an AED.
First Aid/CPR/AED courses are typically combined so that you can learn these skills in one easy class.
The cost of these courses varies, depending on your location and whether you take the stand-alone courses or the blended ones. They can be taken in person or via the Red Cross’ Simulated Learning, which blends online education with in-person classes.
First Aid Kits
It’s wise to keep a first-aid kit at home, in your car and at work. You can get first aid kits at drugstores or from the Red Cross. You can also put your own first aid kit together. It should at least contain the following 13 items:
• Gauze pads (at least 4 x 4 inches)
• Two large gauze pads
• One gauze roller bandage
• One box of adhesive bandages
• Two triangular bandages
• Wound cleaner
• Adhesive tape
• Latex gloves
• Resuscitation equipment such as a resuscitation bag
• Two elastic wraps
• One splint
When it comes to floods, preparation can be your best defense. A key part of that flood preparation is having flood insurance in place. Yet last year, a shocking 85 percent of homeowners didn’t have flooding insurance. Don’t be part of that 85 percent. Now is the time to contact Neptune Flood. We’ll help waterproof your life.