Preparing For A Flood
As with other types of emergency, you should prepare yourself and your family by creating an Emergency Supply Kit and a Family Disaster Plan. Be sure to educate yourself about the emergencies that typically occur in your locale.
- Your Kit should include items that will help you stay self-sufficient for up to three days, if needed such as, canned food, bottled water, first-aid kit, battery operated flash light and radio, blanket, and manual can opener.
- Your Plan should include evacuation plans, a place to reunite with loved ones, and an out-of-state contact person.
Store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects (such as photographs) where they won't get damaged. If major flooding is expected, consider putting them in a storage facility.
Know your area's flood risk.
Contact your Local or County Office of Emergency Management
Protect Yourself and Your Home with Flood Insurance
Standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding and without it you have little protection from the floods that result from hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other weather conditions that cause flooding. Get the facts about flood insurance, view flood-hazard maps and learn what causes flooding at the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program.
Stay Tuned: Listen to your local radio and television stations for weather updates, Storm Watches or Warnings, and emergency instructions from public safety officials. Remember: A battery-powered radio is a vital part of your Emergency Supply Kit. If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
STEPS TO TAKE DURING A FLOOD
- Listen to a battery-powered radio or television for the latest storm information, and for instructions from Public Safety Officials.
- A Flood or Flash Flood Watch issued by the National Weather Service means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.
- A Flood or Flash Flood Warning means a flood or flash flood will occur very soon or is already occurring.
- Check the items in your Emergency Kit and review your Family Disaster Plan
- Fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated. Tip: Sanitize the sinks and bathtubs by using bleach. Rinse thoroughly and then fill with clean water.
- Move valuables, such as papers, furs, jewelry and clothing to upper floors or higher elevations.
- Bring outdoor items, such as lawn furniture, grills and trash cans inside, or tie down securely.
- If public officials instruct you to do so, shut off the water and electricity. Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you to do otherwise.
- Prepare to evacuate, in case public safety officials direct you to do so.
- Fill your car's gas tank, or listen for evacuation instructions for those who depend on public transit.
- If told to evacuate by public safety officials, do so immediately.
- If waters start to rise inside your house before you have evacuated, retreat to the second floor, the attic, and if necessary, the roof.
Avoid coming in contact with floodwaters.
- Floodwaters may carry raw sewage, chemical waste and other disease-spreading substances. If you touch floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.
- Electric current passes easily through water. Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.
- Do NOT try to swim to safety!
- Do not drive, walk or swim through floodwaters.
- Look out for animals, especially snakes, which may be seeking higher ground to avoid floodwaters.
IF DIRECTED TO EVACUATE
- Do not evacuate unless or until directed to do so by public safety officials.
- When directed to evacuate, follow the instructions you are given by public safety officials. Heed their advice immediately.
- Leave as soon as possible.
- Bring your Emergency Kit
- Dress for the prevailing weather conditions, at minimum a long sleeve shirt, pants, and sturdy shoes.
- Take your pets with you. Remember that pets (other than assistance animals for people with disabilities) are not permitted in emergency shelters. You must follow your plan to go to a friend's home or a pet-friendly hotel.
- Lock your home.
- Use travel routes specified by local authorities - don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
- Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Stay away from downed power lines.
- If you are sure you'll have time
- Call your family contact to tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
- Shut off water and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so. Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you otherwise.
- Listen to local authorities. They will provide you with the most accurate information specific to an event in your area. Stay tuned to local radio and television. A battery-powered radio is a vital part of your Emergency Kit
RETURNING HOME AFTER YOU HAVE EVACUATED
- Return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so. Keep tuned to your local radio and TV stations for recovery information.
- Beware of downed or loose power lines. Report them immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
- Drive only if absolutely necessary. Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
- Enter your home with caution.
- Beware of snakes, insects and other animals driven to higher ground by floodwater.
- Upon reentering the dwelling, clean and disinfect everything that was touched by floodwaters or mudflows, and throw out any affected foodstuffs.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Do not use candles or open flames indoors. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage.
- Beware of the potential for electrocution. Wear rubber gloves and rubber soled shoes to avoid electrocution. Do not turn on any lights or appliances if the house has been flooded. Leave the electricity off when checking electrical circuits and equipment or when checking a flooded basement.
- Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
- Use the telephone for emergency calls only.
- Check for structural damage before reentering your home. Watch for falling debris and the possibility of collapsing ceilings and basement walls. Do NOT go in if there is a chance the building will collapse.
- Let a relative know you are back at home. Tell them how to get in touch with you, if the phone lines are still down.
List yourself as safe and well on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website. If you have been affected by a disaster, this website provides a way for you to register yourself as “safe and well.” From a list of standard messages, you can select those that you want to communicate to your family members, letting them know of your well-being.
Concerned family and friends can search the list of those who have registered themselves as “safe and well.” The results of a successful search will display a loved one’s first name, last name, an “as of date”, and the “safe and well” messages selected.
Page last modified/reviewed on September 18, 2015
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