Safety Tips for Before, During and After a Flood
Everyone is at risk for flooding, no matter where you call home. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, floods are the most common natural disaster in the country. Would you know how to stay safe if a flood occurred at your home? Here are some safety tips to consider before, during and after a flood.
What to Do Before a Flood
Before a flood happens, it’s a good idea to take some precautions so you can be better prepared. First, consider developing an evacuation plan and reviewing it with your family. That way, if an emergency situation (such as a flood) occurs, you can act as quickly as possible. You may also want to keep a “go bag” packed with emergency supplies (such as water, food, clothing and medication) in case you need to evacuate. And, if you have a pet, consider pulling together an emergency kit for them and mapping out pet-friendly hotels.
When it comes to protecting your house, remember that a homeowners insurance policy doesn’t typically cover your home or belongings when they’re damaged by a flood. To help protect your home, consider purchasing a flood insurance policy.
What to Do During a Flood Watch
When a flood watch is issued, it means weather conditions are favorable for a flood, but one has not occurred yet, says the National Weather Service (NWS). A watch also does not mean that a flood will definitely occur.
During a flood watch, you can take certain precautions to help protect your personal belongings. For example, Ready.gov suggests storing important documents in waterproof containers and moving valuables to a higher level of your home. Outside, secure or bring in outdoor furniture or your grill, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You should also charge up your electronic devices, including your mobile phone. Having a battery-powered or hand-crank radio may also be a good idea in case the power goes out, recommends the American Red Cross (Red Cross).
What to Do During a Flood Warning
A flood warning is more serious than a flood watch, as it is issued when a flood is about to occur or is already happening, says the NWS. Because of how quickly weather conditions can change, it’s important to monitor local news and weather reports to stay informed. This is where you can typically get updates on the flooding situation as well as potential evacuation instructions.
If local authorities do instruct you to evacuate, you should take their advice seriously and depart as soon as possible, says Ready.gov. If you come across a flooded area while evacuating, turn around and try another route. Do not walk, swim or drive through floodwater, as this can create a dangerous situation, states Ready.gov. According to the CDC, as little as 6 inches of standing or moving water can cause your car to lose control.
If flooding occurs suddenly or without warning, remember these tips from Ready.gov:
- If you’re at home, stay inside and move to the highest level (but avoid closed attics, as you may risk becoming trapped by rising floodwater).
- If you’re in the car, stay inside and only move to the roof if the vehicle begins to flood.
- Try to avoid contact with floodwater, as it may be contaminated.
What to Do After a Flood
Once weather conditions improve, you may be eager to return home if you were evacuated. It’s important, however, to wait for local authorities to state it’s safe to do so, says the Red Cross.
When entering your home, use caution and help protect yourself by wearing boots and gloves during cleanup. Floodwater can also bring snakes, insects or other animals inside your home, so stay alert. You should also be aware of the risk of electrocution due to downed power lines and standing water. Avoid wading in floodwater and do not touch electrical appliances or equipment if you’re standing in water or your clothes are wet, says Ready.gov.
Since floodwater can be contaminated, you should also pay close attention to any water advisories, says the CDC. If you are under an advisory, you should only drink and cook with bottled, boiled or treated water.
Following these tips may help you and your family stay safe if a flood strikes at your home. And, don’t forget that creating an emergency plan ahead of time may be helpful in the event that you do need to evacuate your home.