5 flood safety tips

Floods can happen anywhere it rains. So flood safety should be something you prepare for now - just in case.

Even if your community hasn't experienced rising waters in the past, that's no guarantee disaster won't come calling in your neighborhood in the future and that you should ignore basic flood safety measures.  

Rivers and streams commonly overflow their banks after a harsh storm or as a result of a levee breach.

Floods can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceed the capacity of underground pipes, or of streets and drains designed to carry the water away from urban areas. 

Flooding is one of the most common hazards to our family's safety and finances. These 5 flood safety tips will help you to protect yourself, your family, and your finances before a weather event occurs.

  1  create an emergency survival kit.

An emergency survival kit should have enough supplies to last your family for at least three days. Basic supplies to include:

  • a First Aid kit
  • 1 gallon of water per day, per person;
  • a 3-day supply of non-pershible food;
  • a battery powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both;
  • a flashlight and extra batteries;
  • a whistle to call for help;
  • moist towelettes, trash bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;
  • dust masks or cotton t-shirts, to help filter the air;
  • plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place;
  • wrench or pliers to turn off the gas.

You'll also want to include any essential medications, an extra pair of eye glasses or contact lenses, diapers and formula if you have a baby, and pet supplies.

You should also consider including: a gas or battery-power lantern; a waterproof tarp to shelter your family if you must evacuate; life preservers for each family member; and plenty of drinking water. Store your emergency kit in a waterproof container. For a complete family supply list, visit Ready.gov.

  2  preparing your home for a flood.

If you live in a high risk area, be sure that major appliances, electric switch boxes, outlets, and heating equipment are well above potential flood levels.

Install floating drain plugs and sewer system back flow valves to help prevent a drain overflow.

Stack sacks of sand or a sandbag alternative hydrabarrier to prevent or absorb water along vulnerable entry points.

  3  prepare your finances for a flood's possible devastation.

Yes, your finances. Cleaning up a water damaged home can set you back thousands of dollars. It simply makes sense to be prepared by having an insurance policy in place.

To determine the financial impact it could have on your family, check out The Cost of Flooding tool at FloodSmart.gov. Here are a few things to know about flood insurance:

  • Water losses are not typically covered under renter and homeowner's insurance policies;
  • FEMA manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); the fact that it's federally backed may (or may not) give you more security in purchasing;
  • If the latter, you can always obtain insurance through your local insurance agent. Be aware that there is a 30-day waiting period before the insurance goes into effect - so don't wait for that rainy day.

  4  be familiar with flood hazard watch words.

Know these four impending water hazard terms, and what to do when one of the following is issued to keep your family safe:

flood watch.

Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.

flash flood watch.

Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; list to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.

flood warning.

Waters are rising or will rise soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

flash flood warning.

A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

  5  know when to hit the road.

If a warning is sounded, immediately log on to your favorite weather or news website, or turn on the radio or TV for emergency updates and details on evacuation routes.

Grab your disaster kit, collect your valuables in large plastic bags, and get out of Dodge. Or where ever you're at.

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