Updated: June 2015
Flood damage isn't typically covered by homeowners insurance. To get flood coverage, you can buy a separate flood policy through the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Talk to an agent about purchasing an NFIP flood policy through a private insurance company who participates as a Write Your Own (WYO) Company in the NFIP.
Avoid building in a flood prone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home. Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel if your home is susceptible to flooding. Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage. You can also consult with a professional plumber to install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
It's also important to be prepared for floods and have an emergency flood plan in place for your area.
Prepare an emergency supplies kit including:
Hard-wired alarms can be wired into your home's electrical system, but require hiring an electrician; battery-operated smoke alarms can be low-stress DIY project.
- Three day water supply
- Three day supply of non-perishable food with manual can-opener
- Disposable plates, cups and utensils
- First aid kit including prescription medications
- Battery-powered radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Personal hygiene items and any essential items for individual family members
Remember to keep important papers, valuables and other irreplaceable items on upper floors or higher elevations in the house.
Oftentimes when a flood occurs, homeowners have little time to even think. When a flood does occur, listen to the radio or television for more information.
Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move. Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings like rain clouds or heavy rain.
If you must evacuate:
Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
After the flood has taken place, it's important to listen for news reports to find out whether the community's water supply is safe to drink. Avoid moving water, as well as floodwaters because they can be contaminated or electrically charge. Also, be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
In order to stay safe, avoid downed power lines and report them to the power company. Wait to return home until authorities have indicated it's safe.
In addition, keep these tips in mind:
- Stay out of buildings surrounded by floodwaters.
- Use extreme caution if entering flooded buildings.
- Be cautious when clearing or moving debris. Floodwaters may have carried animals or snakes into the area.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems.
- Consider contacting a professional water remediation vendor, and save your receipts.