Disaster Prepping: Floods

flash flood
Floods are one of the more common natural disasters that occur in the US, particularly if you live near a large body of water, stream, levee, creek or river. Floods are caused from the rains brought in by hurricanes or tropical storms, Spring thaw, failure of a levee or dam, Some floods take some time to develop during heavy rainfall, so you do have some advance warning of the potential for a flood.

Other floods such as a flash flood, develop very quickly and can occur after just minutes or hours of a heavy rainfall, or failure of a dam or levee, or the sudden release of water held back by ice. Flash floods are very dangerous, with a fast-moving wall of water that has mud, debris and rocks in it that can do a lot of damage. Flash floods can flatten trees, move boulders and destroy bridges and buildings.

One way to help flood proof your house is the apply a waterproof sealant to the foundation of your home. Another thing you can do is to build a floodwall with sand bags that will help to keep water from coming into your home.

There are things that you can do to lessen the impact of flood waters.

Should the flood waters come into your home, make sure you should disconnect all electrical appliances and utilities and move to the upper levels of your home. Take emergency food, water, dry clothing, blankets, pillows and medical supplies with you as you don’t know how long you will be there. A battery powered radio would also be helpful so you get the news on what’s going on in your area. If you’ve got a bug out bag prepared with all of those supplies in it, take that to higher levels in your house. If you live in an area that is subject to flooding, it’s probably a good idea to store your emergency flood supplies at the higher level of your home.

Do not attempt to walk or drive through flood waters. Six inches of water can sweep you off your feet, plus standing water can be charged with electricity from downed power lines. Flood waters can also be contaminated with gasoline, raw sewage, oil or other hazardous materials.

If the water reaches the bottom of your car, it can cause stalling or loss of control. Most vehicles will float in a foot of water and most vehicles, includes SUVs and trucks will be swept away in in two feet of moving water. In addition, the depth of the water isn’t always obvious. Areas where the flood waters have receded can also be dangerous. The road may have been weakened or damaged and may not support the weight of a car.

Stay out of damaged buildings. Floods can cause damage that you can’t see and it can be dangerous to walk around a flood damaged building.

Staying healthy after a flood

  • Damage to septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems are hazardous to your health. Repair the damage as soon as possible.
  • Stay tuned to your local news stations so you know whether or not your water supply is safe to drink.
  • Use a disinfectant to clean everything in your house that got wet. Mud carried in from flood waters can be contaminated with chemicals or sewage.

Cleaning Up and Repairing Your Home

Even if the power is out in your area, turn off your electricity at the main breaker and leave it off until your house is dry enough to turn it back on.

Download a copy of the report, Repairing Your Flooded Home. It has helpful information such as:

  • Entering your home safely after a flood.
  • Protecting your home and belongings from further damage.
  • Keeping a record of the damage for insurance claims.
  • Checking for gas or water leaks. Getting gas and water service restored.
  • Cleaning appliances, furnishings and other belongings after a flood.
  • Once you have a record of all the damage, it’s time to contact your flood insurance agent to discuss your insurance claim.
  • Check your radio stations for information on federal, state, local or other organizations that are providing assistance.
  • Always check references and qualifications of contractors if you hire a company for repairs and cleanup, especially if they are people driving through neighborhoods offering to help in the cleanup and repairs of your home.

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