An estimated 13 million Americans are reported to live in a FEMA-designated flood zone according to Columbia Climate School. But recent studies show that number could be as high as 41 million when the risk of flooding from rivers is factored in. A flood zone is an area that has been identified as having the potential to develop catastrophic flood conditions more than once per year. With many people being unaware of how quickly a flood can overtake their property, it is imperative to educate our flood-prone citizens to prevent loss, destruction, and even death.
When you least expect it
Flooding can occur anywhere in the U.S. at any time of the year. Bad weather, clogged storm sewers, and rising rivers can destroy your home and property in mere minutes, leaving you and your loved ones without a safe place to go. While you may be evacuating your property and moving to higher ground, you should still take steps to prepare your home for a flood if you can shelter in place. Not only will you help preserve and protect your most valuable assets, but you may also be able to minimize the amount of damage incurred and save thousands on replacement and repair once you return to your home. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and take these steps to ensure that you protect what you’ve worked so hard to acquire.
1. Buy and install sump pumps that contain a backup power source
A sump pump hooks into your existing power supply or runs on batteries; storms that bring flooding can knock out power for days, weeks, even months without warning. You will need a system that can run efficiently on batteries or a generator to prevent excess water from filling up your low-lying levels. Have a knowledgeable electrician or plumber give you advice on the best system for your home, and know how to use it in case of emergency.
2. Raise electrical components at least a foot above projected flood elevation
Do not attempt to perform this action step unless you are adept at working with electrical components; this will be a critical part of keeping you and your family safe in case of flash flooding. Raising your sockets, light switches, and wiring will prevent electrocution and protect expensive components of your electrical system from water damage.
3. Waterproof your basement
Waterproofing your lower level before flooding occurs will reduce damage in the event of an event. Make sure storm drains and gutters are clear, and that your property naturally slopes away from your home’s foundation. Think about how you might divert water flow from window wells and entrances leading into your basement.
4. Make a checklist for “things to do” and post it in an accessible place
In an emergency like flooding, you may not always be able to think clearly. Having a checklist to follow as waters are rising will help you to protect as much of your home as you can. Consider adding these to the list:
- Disconnect all appliances
- Turn off main power breakers
- Turn off all gas at the mainline inside your home
- Turn off your main water line
Toilets and other sewer connections should have plugs or backflow valves to prevent floodwaters from backing up into your home. Cleanup will be hard enough without having to scoop sewage out of sinks, bathtubs, and toilets upon your return. Have your septic system thoroughly checked for issues before attempting to use water in your house.
5. Anchor fuel tanks if needed
An unanchored tank outside your home can easily be swept away during a flood, doing damage to other houses and contaminating your basement if not properly secured. Do what you can to properly anchor it to prevent it from damaging surrounding property.
6. Stash a backup water supply and a makeshift toilet
Do not attempt to drink water in and around your home or to use your toilet after the waters have receded. You’ll need to get the all-clear from city officials to ensure that these are safe enough to use, and until then, you need to have a backup. Consider storing five-gallon bottles of water on a second-level floor of your home, and prep some five-gallon buckets for a pseudo-camping experience should you have to use the bathroom while you wait to hear if sanitation services are back in order.
7. Attend to the furnace and air conditioner
Shut off power to both the furnace and air conditioner, if possible, and leave it in place to avoid issues with gas and freon leaks. These units could cause health hazards if you attempt to move them, not to mention injury to yourself and others if these toxic substances begin leaking in and around your home. Do the same with your water heater, shutting off water and gas at their source to avoid dire consequences.
8. Move furniture and important belongings
Items such as carpet, drywall, and pressed wood will be irreparably damaged after a flood. Know that there will be some things that you’ll have to replace as you begin the process of rebuilding. If you have precious items of furniture, paperwork, and other important belongings, consider moving them to a higher floor or a safer location altogether. Do what you can before any evacuation orders, and as you pack survival belongings for you and your loved ones, do so with only the essentials in mind.
9. Family comes first!
While your home is a precious asset, your family’s safety and comfort during this time are ultimately most important. Regardless of whether you choose to evacuate or not, gather all your important items before any flood watches or warnings, and have them stored in a secure, dry place. In the event of a sudden evacuation, you’ll be spared precious minutes as you grab and go these prepared bags, and you’ll be giving your family every advantage when it comes to making it to higher ground.
Flood insurance: Another important step to take
The assurance of Neptune Flood is not something to be overlooked. While most other flood insurance companies require a 30-day waiting period on flood insurance, Neptune has you up and running in 10 days or less, with a guarantee of satisfaction and peace of mind that comes with knowing your property is protected. Protect you, your loved ones, and your property by purchasing flood coverage through Neptune Flood today; let us get you through anything that may come your way.
Original article published May 2018. Updated content and references February 2022.