5 flood safety tips

to Protect Your Family and Finances

Floods can happen anywhere it rains.

As a result, virtually everyone should think about flood safety in the home, and prepare for now. Just in case the worst-case scenario comes to pass.

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.

These 5 flood safety tips will help you to protect yourself, your family, and your finances.

1.  Have an Emergency Survival Kit Ready for a Rainy Day

Store supplies so you can grab them quickly if you need to evacuate.

Store supplies so you can grab them quickly if you need to evacuate.

Take time now to make a list of the things you need or want to take with you if you have to leave your home quickly.

Store the necessary emergency supplies in a "Go Bag" or another container.

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

  • a First Aid kit
  • A 3-day supply of water - at least 1 gallon of water per day, per person 
  • A 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy to prepare food
  • Battery-powered radio and an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries;
  • A first aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical its (glasses, contact lenses, syringes)
  • A flashlight and extra batteries;
  • A multi-purpose tool;
  • 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;
  • Cell phones with chargers;
  • Extra cash;
  • Emergency blanket;
  • Maps of the area;
  • Pet supplies;
  • Rain gear;
  • Extra set of car and house keys;
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen;
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information; deed/lease to home; birth certificates, insurance policies);
  • Camera for photos of the damage.

Make sure to include life preservers with your disaster kit.

2.  Protect Your Home

Take steps to protect your home and property from flood damage:

  • Elevate the heating system (furnace), water heater, and electrical panel if the location is susceptible to flooding;
  • Install 'check valves' in sewer lines to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home;
  • Waterproof the basement;
  • Install sump pumps with battery backup;
  • Stockpile emergency building materials including plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber nails, a hammer and saw, a pry bar, and shovel.

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

3.  Prepare Your Finances for a Flood

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

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 coverage goes into effect - so don't wait for that rainy day.

4.  Be Familiar with Flood Hazard Watch Words

Flood watches, warnings, and evacuation notices are science-based predictions that are intended to provide adequate time for evacuation. Those who wait for actual confirmation of catastrophic levels may be trapped by flooding or traffic. 

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

1.  Flood Watch

Flooding is possible. You should leave or be prepared to move to higher ground immediately upon short notice. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.

2.  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.

3.  Flood Warning

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

4.  Flash Flood Warning

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

5.  Know When to Hit the Road

If a flood warning is sounded, a flood is imminent. Turn on the radio or TV for a weather update and 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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