Flood Safety: It’s in Your Favor to be Prepared

Flooding is a coast-to-coast threat to the United States and its territories nearly every day of the year.1 Sounds like a pretty big deal, doesn’t it? Well turns out, it is.

While we realize that for some areas of the United States it seems premature to talk about flooding in February, not only is it never too early to prepare, but flooding can also be a problem from heavy snow melt…which is already happening in some areas. And with spring right around the corner, flooding will soon come in the form of spring storms and rain.

Although often times floods will form slowly and give us plenty of advance warning, this is not always the case, especially with flash floods. Flash floods can occur within minutes and sometimes without any sign of rain.2 So how do you prepare your home and your business? In addition to getting flood insurance, the below lists, compiled  from Ready.gov and FEMA, include some great resources to help you plan — before — during — and after a flood.

Before a Flood:

  • Make sure you know your area’s flood risk (this will help in proper planning for high and low risk areas).
  • Be sure to consult with your insurance provider about your policy. Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a flood. A Flood Watch means that widespread flooding is possible in your area and you should be prepared to evacuate. A Flood Warning means that a flood is expected within six to 12 hours.
  • Get a Ready kit in case you have to evacuate and plan ahead for where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
  • Keep insurance policies, documents and other valuables in a safe deposit box.
  • Raising your furnace, water heater and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
  • Create a communication plan.
  • Designate an out-of-town contact. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or programmed into their cell phones.
  • And don't forget about your pets! It’s important to find a pet-friendly hotel or make arrangements with family or friends in advance.

During a Flood:

  • If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
  • Monitor local radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Listen to local officials. If you are advised to evacuate, do so right away.
  • Barricades are provided for your safety, therefore do not drive around them.
  • NEVER drive through standing water. It only takes one foot of water to float a full-sized vehicle and two feet can sweep it away. In fact, more than 50% of flood victims are in vehicles swept away by moving water.3
  • Move to higher ground and away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.
  • Stay out of floodwaters, if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, if your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Six inches of fast-moving water can knock a person off his or her feet.
  • Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electrocution.

After a Flood:

  • Listen to local radio or TV to learn about local assistance such as clothing, groceries and other emergency need items.
  • Contact your insurance agent to discuss claims.
  • If you don't already have an emergency restoration provider, find someone qualified to do the job and always check references.
  • Remember to play it safe with closed roads and other flooded areas, even if it seems like flood levels are reducing. Signs and barricades are there for your protection, so heed the warning.

Some of the above points may seem like common sense, but always worth mentioning because as we know, things can get a little (or a lot) off track in an emergency. Safety is key when it comes to any disaster and planning ahead for emergency situations will never be a waste of time. 

Sources:
1,2 http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/
3 http://ready.ga.gov/be-informed/floods-and-flash-floods/
http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/watch_warning.shtml
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/spring_safety.html
https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1511-20490-0446/after_a_flood.pdf