Flood Preparedness - What's Your Plan?
No matter where you live or what time of year it is, a flood can happen to you. From river and coastal flooding to flash floods, inland flooding, and storm surges, water can appear in unwanted places gradually or all at once.
Flooding is one of the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Frequent because it can happen anywhere, and costly because of the havoc it can wreak on your home and community. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that each year, about 90% of all disaster-related property damage results from flooding.
Water damage is no joke and can cause:
Structural and personal property damage - an inch of water can destroy porous materials such as carpeting, drywall, appliances, and furniture. Heavy flooding goes beyond that and can damage ducts, heating and air conditioning systems, roofing, sewer and electric lines, framing, and even the foundation of your home.
Health risks - flood waters coming into your home may contain mud, oil, gasoline, raw sewage, pesticides, and other chemicals. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that floods have the ability to transmit water borne diseases like typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis, and hepatitisin addition to vector borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and dengue haemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, and West Nile Fever.
Mold - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold can start growing in as little as 24 hours after flood waters hit your home. Mold can damage your home and belongings as well as your personal health.
What can you do? Prepare yourself, your family, and your community for a flood. The American Red Cross recommends having these items available and ready in case of an emergency evacuation:
- Water (at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day) - Food (at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy to prepare food) - Flashlight - Battery powered/hand crank weather radio - Extra batteries - First Aid kit - Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane) - Multi-purpose tool - Sanitation and personal hygiene items - Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies) - Cell phone with chargers - Family and emergency contact information - Extra cash - Emergency blanket - Maps of the area - Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers) - Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl) - Tools/supplies for securing your home - Extra clothing, hat, and sturdy shoes - Rain gear - Insect repellent and sunscreen - Camera for photos of damage
Craig Keen, a project manager at Baxter Restoration tells us, “It’s important to be prepared for a flood, but you can also help stop one from occurring by remembering these tips. Turn off your water at the meter when leaving home for an extended period of time, inspect under your sink frequently to check for slow leaks, have your insurance company’s phone number handy in case you need to file a claim, and remember to use one of their preferred vendors.”
A flood is happening now - what should I do? During a flood, stay tuned in via television or radio for weather and disaster updates. A flood can knock out your power so it’s important to have a battery powered/hand crank weather radio handy. If a flood warning has been issued in your area, be prepared with your emergency gear and head for higher ground. Do not drive or walk through flood waters - they could be contaminated or deeper than you think. If you have to evacuate your home, don’t return back until officials have declared the area safe. After a flood you may find loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks and damage, wild animals (especially snakes), contaminated water, and electrical appliances that have been exposed to water.
You can never be too prepared for a flood or any other type of disaster. Make a clear and concise plan with your family and members of your community, have your flood preparedness items packed up and ready to go, and try to stay calm and clear headed throughout the experience.