Home Safety & Security: Flood Preparedness

Floods are one of the most common natural threats in the United States. Flooding threatens many different areas throughout the United States and its territories. Knowing what to do before, during, and after a flood will increase your chances of survival. Even if you do not live in an area that is prone to flooding, it is still important to educate yourself on what to do during a natural disaster of this type; extreme weather conditions have the ability to cause flooding in areas not normally used to dealing with the issue.

What To Do Before A Flood

Whether you live in a community that is at low or high risk of flooding, it is a good idea to have a plan in place. To prepare for a possible flood, you should put together an emergency kit in addition to a family communication plan. If building your home on a floodplain, it should be reinforced and elevated. Flood hazard maps are available to show the risk of flooding for specific communities. These maps not only help in determining where to build, they help determine the type of flood insurance you will need. If you do live in an area with a high risk of flooding, you should elevate the water heater, furnace, and electric panel, for safety. Barriers should also be constructed to stop floodwater from entering you home. In addition to waterproof sealant, once a flood warning is in place, sand bags can be used to create a barrier.

What To Do During A Flood

If it is likely that the area you are living in is going to experience a flood, you should listen to the news or radio to keep up to date on weather developments. Also be aware of areas that can flood suddenly, such as canyons, streams, or drainage channels, and be aware of flash floods. If flooding is bad enough that you must evacuate your home, be sure to secure you home and turn off all utilities as well as disconnecting appliances. When leaving your home, do not walk through moving water, and do not drive in flooded areas as your vehicle can be swept away.

What To Do After A Flood

In the aftermath of a flood, there can still be dangers. Listening to warning systems and local alerts will help you stay on top of vital information. Moving water should be avoided, and you should not return home until the proper authorities deem that it is safe. In addition to the risk of injury, there is also the risk of illness in the aftermath of a flood. Floodwaters can be contaminated with various substances, and the local water supply could be contaminated. Everything that has gotten wet should be cleaned and disinfected. If you home is still structurally sound, once it dries out, the power can be restored. At this point, you should check for water or gas leaks, record all damage, and then contact your insurance company to file a claim.

What Causes Floods?

There are several different causes of flooding. Heavy rains put some areas of the country at high risk of flooding. Excessive rainfall in the Northeast and the thawing of snow and ice in the spring can cause floods. Tropical storms and hurricanes can also cause heavy rainfall which can cause flooding as far as hundreds of miles inland. When hurricanes weaken into tropical storms, they can generate heavy rainfall in one concentrated area, resulting in oftentimes severe flooding. Levees and dams can also be at the center of floods. While the are designed to hold back water, if they fail the damages from the resulting flood can be catastrophic. Flash floods can be very dangerous and are caused by fast, heavy rainfall, usually from thunderstorms. Flash floods are the number one killer in the United States when it comes to weather related deaths.

Flooding is a very real threat but with education and preparation, risks can be substantially reduced. To continue reading about floods, consult the following resources.


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