Being prepared for a flood can mean the difference between irreparable damage and minor clean up. Floods occur as a result of regular storms, tornadoes, hurricanes or other natural disasters.
However, not all floods are caused naturally. Unexpected floods may occur when large reservoirs or dams are damaged. Effectively preparing for a flood takes some thought, planning and time. Because a flood can overtake your vehicle and home with little notice, it is important to prepare for one ahead of time.
The sections below provide information about floods, methods to prepare your home for a flood and essential items to gather in preparation for one.
Levels of a Flood
Floods can be powerful or minor, depending on their level, the bodies of water nearby and their potential to cause damage. However, even minor floods can become serious in a short period of time. Never assume a minor flood lacks the potential to overtake your property, vehicles or possessions. The levels of a flood are categorized below:
- Minor Flooding – This is the lowest threat level of a flood. There is limited or no property damage to speak of, with the possibility of public threat.
- Moderate Flooding – Moderate flooding comes with possibility of some flooding on roads and in buildings closest to a body of water. Local authorities may suggest minor evacuations or relocating vehicles and possessions to higher ground.
- Major Flooding – Major floods leave structures and roads under great amounts of water. There will likely be mandatory evacuations for several cities or counties. Relocation of all possessions and vehicles to higher ground is strongly suggested.
- Record Flooding – Flood levels equal surpass previous records of flood levels, making them a significant threat to the immediate environment and population.
Prep an Emergency Kit for a Flood
A flood can cause devastating damage to a home and its surrounding environment. If you are not well-prepared, a flood can cause irreparable damage to your home or vehicle. The water can cause electrical shortages or fires and can attract insects and mosquitoes to an area. If you do not properly prepare a flood emergency kit ahead of time, your supplies may get wet and rendered useless. Consider preparing the following items when compiling your flood emergency kit.
Food and Water Supplies
Prepare at least one gallon of water per person in your party for a minimum of three days. Generally, two quarts are used for drinking, while the other two can be used for washing. In addition, pack at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food items, such as canned meats and vegetables, high calorie bars, meals ready to eat (MREs) and nuts.
Remember to have cooking oil and spices packed away too. If you have babies or pets, pack a sufficient amount of food for them, too. Store them in waterproof containers and keep them high up on counters or tables.
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Keep other supplies such as a portable gas stove on hand. Have extra gas cannisters, cookware, napkins, cutlery and paper plates accessible, too. Fill any extra plastic water jugs and bottles you may have with clean water and store them in the freezer. Fill the tub with water to use for cleaning or flushing if the need arises.
Communication and Navigation
Being able to communicate during a flood is essential. Make sure you have a cellphone and the appropriate charger. A solar-powered charger comes in handy if the power goes out. Have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio to listen to news updates and emergency information as the flood goes on.
Get a compass and a map of the surrounding area. Have an extra tank of gasoline stored away in case you need to drive through floodwaters to another area. Although driving through a flood can be dangerous, note that many pickup trucks and Jeeps are high enough to clear some flooded areas.
If you are settling down for a flood, you are going to need a flashlight, headlamps and extra batteries. Other useful supplies include tarp, tools, a knife, flint, waterproof matches and lighters. If you are staying home and know your area is prone to flooding, sandbags, wooden boards and caulk may be necessary.
Personal Valuables and Personal Care
Have some extra cash on hand for any emergency situation. Keep copies of personal documents, such as passports, birth certificates or insurance policies, placed in weather-proof covering. Prepare a first-aid kit along with hygiene products like toothbrush and toothpaste, feminine products, moist towelettes, soap and toilet paper. Pack these using water-proof bags or containers. Prepare your water-proof clothing or long water boots, warm clothes and blankets. Remember to pack any medications or specialty items like medical supplies.
Reinforce Your Home for a Flood
Take the proper measures to reinforce your home prior to a flood event. Pick up power strips and electronic devices off the floor. Place them and other items vulnerable to water on countertops, tables and high shelves in your closet. Unplug fans and space heaters and store them up high on shelves as well.
Use the sandbags to pool water in areas outside of your home. To keep water from seeping into your home through doorways, place a wooden board across the bottom width of the doorframe. Use caulk to line the board along its perimeter to ensure it is watertight.
If you have a basement, waterproof it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Make sure you have a working sump pump to remove the excess water accumulating in your basement during or after the event. A water alarm can alert you to when water has begun accumulating in your home. Cover delicate items in tarp.
Clean your home as best as possible to keep water damage to a minimum. If the flood has potential to get really high, use caulk to seal any areas around the window frames of your home. Of course, buying flood insurance prior to the flood season is a good way to make sure the majority of damages are taken care of.
Emergency Protocols and Exits for a Flood
Because floods are unpredictable, it is important to have a set list of protocols for any level of flood and review it with family. One tactic to take is to evacuate prior to a largescale flood or storm reaching your area. For this to work, you must have flood emergency supplies already packed and ready to be placed in a vehicle at a moment’s notice. In addition, you must also have several evacuation routes planned out. You need to listen to local news reports for developments and to react accordingly.
If you plan to stay home, hunker down and do your best. Going out into flooded roads is not advised when the floods have already hit. Likewise, staying in a home where water levels are above waist levels is unsafe.
If you have decided not to evacuate, watch the flood levels and only move to a contingency location if it is no longer safe to stay within the home. Options to consider include getting to a neighbor’s home or having a floatation device readily available. Never go down into a flooded basement. Additionally, only access your roof if it is the last resort.
In addition to evacuation routes, it is recommended you practice rendering first-aid. Some helpful techniques include mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, bandaging and stitching. If you have a plan in place, go over it with your family members. Practice executing your plan once or twice just to see how quickly you can realistically accomplish it.
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