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How To Prepare and Respond To Floods

Flooding is probably the most commonplace disaster in the world. Over the millenia, floods have resulted in immeasurable destruction to life and property. Acquiring more knowledge about how to prepare for floods will assist you and your family in getting ready for a destructive flood that is potentially around the corner. If you are living in a high flood risk area, advance preparation is the key factor to saving your life and that of your loved ones. Generally, to survive a flood requires combination of advance preparation and making the right decisions once a massive flood strikes. The ability to think quickly on your feet is essential once you become aware that floodwater is about to pay a visit.

By following the list of flood safety tips, you and your family will be ready to respond confidently and promptly when a flood warning is issued and the waters start to rise.

Prior to A Flood

  • Assemble an emergency supply kit, which should include battery-powered or hand crank flashlights and radio, first aid and personal medications, rain gear and warm clothing, sleeping bags, ready to eat meals, and other necessary items you need for health and safety.
  • Write down an emergency plan and be certain that everyone knows where to go in the event of a flood warning. Form a bullet list of locations you and your family members could go to; they could be the homes of family or friends, shelters or other safe buildings situated on safer ground (higher elevations). Each family member should be given a written list (in order of importance) of locations and phone numbers.
  • Check if you have insurance that covers flooding. If not, get flood insurance coverage for your home -- if available. Make sure to consult a professional prior to making final flood insurance decisions.
  • Protect your house using sandbags. Sandbags are typically used during floods.
  • Elevate your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to a higher level to reduce damage if they are located in flood-prone regions of your home. Transfer valuable items that are most likely to be damaged during a flood to higher points in your house.
  • Heed flood watches and warnings -- the two terms have different meanings --as floods can take from a few hours or minutes to form. In addition, a flood watch conveys that a flood developing is probable in your area. On the other hand, a flood warning means flooding is (at present) happening in your area or will happen soon in your location. Moreover, flash floods are the most dangerous of all types of floods and can take a short while to develop -- anywhere from a few minutes to hours. Following a flood watch, be attentive to indications of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate once the order to do so is given. If a flood warning is made, listen to local information services for instructions. If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately. Never stray from the instructions the authorities give out.

What To Do During A Flood

  • Keep tuned to local radio and TV emergency warnings. Begin to immediately implement your family evacuation plan.
  • If you are not considering to evacuate, do so only if you have a house with 2 stories or more. Place sandbags or flood boards in their right place, make sure your property is ventilated. Unplug electrical appliances and transfer them upstairs if you have the time. Plug sinks and baths and place a sandbag in the toilet bowl(s) to preclude backflow of unsanitary water. Prepare to turn off gas and electricity.
  • If you have a house with no more than one floor, and are in imminent danger, evacuate immediately as you probably have very little time to escape.
  • When you are evacuating by car, never drive into water and leave your car right away if it stalls in water. You should do everything in your power to avoid all waterways (rivers, streams, creeks, and sewer drains). If you are evacuating on foot, seek dry, higher ground. Evacuate to higher ground as soon as a flood warning is issued. In addition, absolutely never walk through moving water. Be certain you have your emergency kit with you at all times.


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