Floods are among the most common and costly natural disasters. Flooding often occurs after a hurricane, thawing snow, or several days of constant rain. Even if you feel you live in an area with a low risk of flooding, remember that as long as it rains, it can flood. Just because you haven’t experienced a flood before, doesn’t mean you won’t experience a flood in the future. Flood risk is based on several factors, including rainfall, geography, flood-control, river-flow, and tidal-surge data, and changes due to new construction and development. So preparing and knowing what to do in a flood emergency can ultimately save your family from any life-threatening situations.
Apart from the physical havoc it can cause to property, experiencing a flood can be a susceptible time. If you are not prepared for the possibility of a flood, recovery can be late, stressful, and costly.
Securing our home, preparing an emergency kit, and having a definite emergency plan can help you endure the after-effect of a flood.
You first need to:
- Understand the flood risk areas in your community
- Secure your home and property
- Immediately respond when water comes
- Recover after a flood
Before a Flood
Though floods cannot be predicted, hurricanes can. When your community receives a hurricane warning, it is best to prepare for the worst. So here are a few steps on how to prepare before a flood:
- Prepare an emergency kit. You should include essential items like water and non-perishable food.
- Do not build in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
- If you live in a high flood risk area, elevate your furnace, water heater, and electric panel.
- Install “check valves” to prevent floodwater from entering into the drains of your home.
- Construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering your home and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.
During A Flood
Listen to the radio or local emergency officials for updates on what areas are affected, what roads are safe to take, and where to go if you need to evacuate your home. Always keep your emergency kit in a portable container such as a duffel bag, backpack, or suitcase with wheels.
If you need to evacuate:
- Follow the advice of the local emergency authorities. Ignoring the warnings of the local emergency authorities could jeopardize the safety of your family.
- Bring your survival emergency kit.
- Follow the routes specified by your emergency officials. Taking shortcuts could lead you to a blocked or dangerous area.
- Secure your home. If you have time, move essential items to an upper floor or a higher ground.
- Turn off main switches and valves. Disconnect all electrical appliances. Do not touch any electrical equipment if you are already wet or standing in water.
Never cross a flooded area
- Walking across fast water could sweep you away.
- If you are inside a car, do not drive through floodwaters. You might get stuck, especially when the water level is deeper than it looks. Your vehicle can also get swept by running waters.
- Do not cross bridges if the water is high and flowing quickly.
- If you are caught driving in fast-rising waters, leave your car and save yourself and your passengers.
After a Flood
- Return home only when authorities advise that it is safe to do so.
- If you failed to turn off the main power switch before flooding, do not re-enter your home. Wait for a professional electrician to determine when it is safe to do so.
- Use extreme caution when re-entering your home after a flood.
- Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure, or sewage system until a qualified electrician has thoroughly inspected all electrical components.
- The main electrical panel must be cleaned thoroughly, dried, and tested by a qualified electrician to ensure safety.
Health Precautions After Flooding
A flood can carry pollutants that can affect your health and well-being. So be extra careful when dealing with food and other essential items after a flood. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- wash your hands immediately after contact with floodwater, sewage or anything contaminated liquid at home
- cover cuts or open sores with a sterile dressing
- wash your children’s hands regularly
- keep children and pets away from contaminated areas
- use rubber gloves when cleaning up
- use a disinfectant spray to clean surfaces and tables where you put food
- decontaminate footwear by washing and treating with a mild disinfectant
- clean toys with disinfectant
Floods, including flash floods, happen in all 50 states in the US and can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening even. They are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters next to fire emergencies, so knowledge and preparation what to do during a flood emergency is vital and will help keep losses to a minimum. Find out more about emergency plans.