Planning for a Flood

Planning for a Flood.

Yes, they happen everywhere in the United States!


Flooding threatens all regions of the United States, high and low. Even the smallest waterways are susceptible. Flooding can occur on its own or accompany many different types of natural disasters. Rivers overwhelmed by rain wash out waterfront property. Slow moving hurricanes trigger flash floods and storm surges, both of which hurtle a wall of killer debris before them. Levees and dams burst in earthquakes or heavy storms, submerging entire neighborhoods or towns.  In fact, floods are among the deadliest and costliest natural disasters.


Most floods in the West are triggered by snowmelt and rainstorms. In the East, hurricanes and thunderstorms are the primary culprits. Regardless of where you live, when a deluge is rushing your way, you can be certain of a few things: the water will be contaminated; it will vanquish any car; and when it reaches your front door, it won’t knock first.


They claim about 140 American lives each year, primarily due to in-car drowning. Damages to roads and structures average $6 Billion annually. Because of this, floods are the only hazard to be covered by federal insurance: FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. 


What’s Your Family’s Flood Plan?


Because floods can happen anywhere, every family should make advanced plans for such an emergency. Teach your family about survival techniques when stranded in water. In your plan, include which items to move to upper floors before a flood. These will include large appliances and valuable furniture. Store them in the highest place possible, away from windows and wrapped in blankets. If you have enough warning, you may want to consider a storage unit out of harm’s way.


Then, make a sandbagging plan. Sandbagged walls, which absorb incoming water, can be a life and property-saver. Decide who will build your wall and where you will obtain supplies. Even better is to store the supplies in your basement or garage at all times. A one-foot high by 20-foot long wall of 100 sandbags will take two people about an hour to construct.


Minor flooding may not lead to evacuation. In these instances, plan to sanitize bathtubs and sinks, then fill them with clean water in case the water supply is later contaminated. Finally, turn off all utilities (except natural gas) and secure outdoor items before heading to the highest level of your home. Have a portable radio, a whistle to signal, flashlight and first aid kit.



5 Steps to Prepare Your Home for a Flood


1.      If you live in a floodplain, reinforce your home now to keep your property as high and dry as possible.

2.      Use waterproofing compounds to seal the walls of your lowest floors, especially the basement, where most flooding occurs.

3.      Be sure your sewer drains have check valves, to keep floodwater from coming into your house through sinks and tubs.

4.      Raise your water heater, furnace and electricity panel above floor levels. This is common today.

5.      Build physical barriers around your house such as levees and flood walls to keep waters at bay.



Why You Should Stay Out of Your Car during a Flood


·         Flooding is the number one weather killer in the United States.

·         More than 50 percent of flood deaths occur inside vehicles.

·         A mere six-inch flood can cause a car to hydroplane.

·         A foot of water can flood a car.

·         Two feet of water can wash away a SUV.



What to Do if You Are Trapped at Home


·         Avoid touching floodwaters, which may tainted by sewage or chemicals.

·         Disconnect electrical appliances only if you are dry, never if you or the floors are wet.

·         Collect drinking water.

·         Turn off gas and water.

·         Grab your 72-hour kit, warm clothing and first aid supplies.

·         Collect flashlights, signaling devices, and emergency radio.

·         Move to the highest point of your house.

·         Wait for help.

·         Do not try to swim to safety.



What to Do When You Return Home After a Flood


·         Only return to inspect your home after local authorities give the okay.

·         Wear sturdy shoes and clothing.

·         Before entering, turn off outside gas lines.

·         Open all windows (there may be gas fumes).

·         Have an electrician inspect all wiring.

·         Have a serviceman inspect and repair your septic tank, cesspool, pit, or leaching system.

·         Have an engineer or mechanic check for structural damage.

·         Cover broken windows or holes in the roof.

·         Throw away all food touched by flood water even if it was in a sealed package, such as a can.

·         Boil all drinking and cooking water for ten minutes until authorities clear your supply.

·         Disinfect items that touched flood waters.

·         Document and photograph all damage.


EXPERT TIP: Floods usually result from heavy or prolonged rain, rapidly melting snow, or broken dams. Flash floods can occur with little or no warning and are dangerous because their swift currents and unpredictable nature. [Girl Scouts]



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