10 Flood Safety Tips for How to Prepare and Make It Through
When people think of natural disasters, usually what comes to mind are hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires. People don’t often think of floods.
But since floods are the most common natural disaster to hit the United States year after year — they’re caused by hurricanes, rising storm surge, heavy rains and even thawing snow.
So why is that some people often don’t take floods seriously?
Since flooding causes more damage and destruction than any other severe-weather event, it’s time to start taking them more seriously. After all, just 1 inch of water in your home can cause $25,000 worth of damage — that your home insurance likely won’t cover.
Many people don’t realize that flood insurance is completely different from home insurance, and it is responsible for helping to repair or replace your home and belongings when floods occur.
These are some of the most important flood safety tips you need to remember to prepare and staying safe.
Flood Watch vs Warning
The first step when thinking about how to prepare for a flood is knowing the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning.
A flood watch is issued when weather conditions — rain for an extended period of time, rising storm surge, etc. — are favorable to induce flooding. Although the conditions are favorable, a flood watch does not necessarily mean flooding will occur. But you should begin preparations when a flood watch is issued.
A flood warning, on the other hand, is when weather conditions are primed to create flooding. If a flood warning has been issued in your area, this means flooding is expected and you should prepare accordingly and know what to do when it hits.
How to Prepare for a Flood
1. Know Whether You Live in a Flood Zone
Before purchasing your home, you should be aware of whether your home is located within FEMA’s flood zone. You can easily check online by using the FEMA flood map.
2. Buy Flood Insurance
If you find that your home is at medium- to high-risk for flooding, you should buy flood insurance immediately. Home insurance does not protect against flood damage, so it’s important for homeowners to invest in flood insurance — whether you live in a FEMA-designated flood zone or not.
Keep in mind that flood insurance doesn’t go into effect until 30 days after the purchase date, so it’s important to invest in the necessary coverage well before the weather takes a turn for the worse.
3. Evacuate If It’s Mandatory or Necessary
If an evacuation order is in place for your area, you should evacuate immediately. Evacuation orders are put in place to help protect the public, and they also mean that first responders will not be able to get into the evacuation area if disaster occurs.
4. Get Supplies to Get You Through Safely
If an evacuation is not mandatory, get enough supplies to keep you safe for at least a week. This means stocking up enough drinking water and non-perishable food to last your entire family. Make sure you have batteries, dry clothes, blankets and medication stored in a location high enough that minor floodwaters won’t reach.
The best way to prevent floodwaters from entering your home is to buy sandbags and place them in front of all exterior doors. The sand will help absorb the water and keep minor floodwaters at bay.
5. Move Valuables to Higher Ground
Since flooding can be unpredictable, we highly suggest you move any valuable items to higher ground. If your home has a second floor, you’ll want to move TVs, electronics and anything else of value up there. If you live in a single-story home, you may use the attic as storage.
6. Put Important Documents in a Waterproof Container
Keeping important documents like insurance papers, social security cards and passports in a waterproof container will ensure they don’t suffer water damage and it will also save you a ton of time if flooding does occur in your home.
7. Clean Your Gutters
One of the best ways to ensure your home doesn’t succumb to water damage from the roof is to clean out your gutters beforehand. Backed up gutters and downspouts can cause serious damage during heavy rains. We also recommend you install gutter guards to keep debris from clogging them.
What to Do in a Flood
8. Don’t Walk or Drive Through Floodwaters
If flooding does occur in your area, it’s important that you stay away from areas that may be underwater. Walking and driving through floodwater is extremely dangerous because they could be filled with dangerous debris or have electrical currents running through them due to downed powerlines.
The ground will also be soft and soggy due to the excessive water, so roads may be washed out or there may be sinkholes under the flood water. The best way to stay safe from floodwaters is to avoid them entirely.
9. Stay Off Bridges That Go Over Water
Bridges that cross running water, no matter how high or low the water normally is, should be avoided. You never know when an influx of water may rush over the bridge at any time, especially since debris from flooding can cause a makeshift dam upstream.
10. Go to the Highest Level of Your Home
If flooding is occurring in your area, you and your family should move to the highest level of your home. If you’re in a first-floor apartment or condo, seek refuge on a higher floor. It’s also important that you stay out of attics with no windows or exits to the outside. These can become extremely dangerous if the floodwaters reach up there and can cut off exits and oxygen.
While stopping floodwaters from entering your home is tough to do, the most important thing you can remember is how to prepare and what to do during a flood. If you take these 10 flood safety tips to heart, you’ll have a better chance of staying safe when a flood occurs.