A sudden spring storm, a heavy downpour or a tropical storm can all lead to the same event, flooding. Flooding poses the risk of significant property damage and a real threat to life and limb. Preparing for a flood is smart. Start by finding out if your home is in danger from flooding. Do you live near a creek, stream, river or lake? If you live near the ocean, could you be effected by storm surge during a hurricane? Are there levees or a dam near your home? These questions might provide a place to start understanding your flood risk. Next consider flood insurance. Flood insurance is separate from home owners or renters insurance. Floods are not covered in home owner policies. You must take out flood insurance to be protected. Beyond these preliminary steps there are other steps you should take to protect your self and your family. Some steps are optional or may not apply to you because of your circumstances others are necessities or will protect your survival. Below are many tips you may want to use.
Some Things To Remember
Do Not Drive Into Running Water More Than A Few Inches Deep. Your vehicle can be carried away with you in it if you drive into running water. The result could be the drowning death of everyone in the vehicle or serious injury.
Avoid Electrical Hazards
- Never make contact with power lines, regardless of whether they are on the ground or intact. Do not drive through standing water if downed powerlines are in the water. If a powerline falls across your car while you are driving, stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line.
- Never turn power on or off yourself or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water. If electrical circuits and electrical equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off.
- If you see frayed wiring or sparks when you restore power, or if there is an odor of something burning (whether fire is visible or not), immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker.
- Consult your utility company about how to install and use power generators properly.
Here are some basic steps and options to take to prepare for the storm:
- Contact the local county geologist or county planning department to find out if your home is located in a flash-flood-prone area or landslide-prone area.
- Learn about your community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters.
- Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the “family contact” in case your family is separated during a flood. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
- Post emergency phone numbers at every phone.
- Inform local authorities about any special needs, i.e., elderly or bedridden people, or anyone with a disability.
- Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before the flood strikes. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before you evacuation. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate. Secure structurally unstable building materials.
- Buy a fire extinguisher and make sure your family knows where it is and how to use it.
- Buy and install sump pumps with back-up power.
- Have a licensed electrician raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12″ above your home’s projected flood elevation.
- For drains, toilets, and other sewer connections, install backflow valves or plugs to prevent floodwaters from entering.
- Anchor fuel tanks which can contaminate your basement if torn free. An unanchored tank outside can be swept downstream and damage other houses.
If you are under a flood watch or warning:
- Gather the emergency supplies you previously stocked in your home and stay tuned to local radio or television station for updates.
- Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
- Have your immunization records handy or be aware of your last tetanus shot, in case you should receive a puncture wound or a wound becomes contaminated during or after the flood.
- Fill bathtubs, sinks and plastic soda bottles with clean water. Sanitize the sinks and tubs first by using bleach. Rinse and fill with clean water.
- Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills and trash cans inside or tie them down securely.
Emergency Supplies You Will Need
You should stock your home with supplies that may be needed during the emergency period. At a minimum, these supplies should include:
- Several clean containers for water, large enough for a 3-5 day supply of water (about five gallons for each person. One gallon per person per day.).
- A 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food and a non-electric can opener.
- A first aid kit and manual and prescription medicines and special medical needs.
- A battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.
- Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
- Water-purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets or unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach.
- Baby food and/or prepared formula, diapers, and other baby supplies.
- Disposable cleaning cloths, such as “baby wipes” for the whole family to use in case bathing facilities are not available.
- Personal hygiene supplies, such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
- An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
- Rubber boots, sturdy shoes, and waterproof gloves.
- Insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin, screens, or long-sleeved and long-legged clothing for protection from mosquitoes which may gather in pooled water remaining after the flood. (More information about these and other recommended repellents can be found in the CDC fact sheet Updated Information Regarding Insect Repellents.)
Preparing to Evacuate
Expect the need to evacuate and prepare for it. When a flood watch is issued, you should:
- Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure the emergency kit for your car is ready.
- If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
- Fill your clean water containers.
- Review your emergency plans and supplies, checking to see if any items are missing.
- Tune in the radio or television for weather updates.
- Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals.
- Put livestock and family pets in a safe area. Due to food and sanitation requirements, emergency shelters cannot accept animals.
- Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.
If You Are Ordered to Evacuate
You should never ignore an evacuation order. Authorities will direct you to leave if you are in a low-lying area, or within the greatest potential path of the rising waters. If a flood warning is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:
- Take only essential items with you.
- If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity, and water.
- Disconnect appliances to prevent electrical shock when power is restored.
- Follow the designated evacuation routes and expect heavy traffic.
- Do not attempt to drive or walk across creeks or flooded roads.
If You Are Ordered NOT to Evacuate
To get through the storm in the safest possible manner:
- Monitor the radio or television for weather updates.
- Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or to a neighbor’s home if your home is damaged, or if you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
Much of this information is made available courtesy of the hard working men and women at the CDC