Floods are some of the most frequent and expensive natural disasters. Flooding often happens after hurricanes or several days of heavy rain. Flash floods occur suddenly because of quickly rising water along streams and low areas. Learn what is necessary to keep loved ones and property safe during a flood.

Preparing for a Flood

Know the type of flood risk in your area and sign up for your community’s emergency warnings. Weather Radio also provides alerts. 

Purchase flood insurance and be familiar with the property damage insurance claims process. Homeowner’s insurance does not cover losses from a flood, and it usually takes about 30 days for flood insurance to go into effect, so don’t wait until a flood is in the forecast to purchase it. 

Make a plan for your family and pets to follow if there is a flood. A plan should specify where family members should go, what they need to do, and how they will protect themselves from flooding. Learn evacuation routes and shelter plans. Collect enough supplies such as food, cleaning supplies, and water to last for several days.

Protect property by decluttering drains and gutters. Install check valves and think about installing a sump pump powered by a battery to help take water out of the home. 

If Time Permits

If there is time, turn off all utilities at their main switch and close the main gas valve. Move any important papers, jewelry, clothing, furs, and other valuables to upper-level floors or places away from the home with higher elevations. 

Fill bathtubs, sinks, and containers with clean water in case regular water supplies get contaminated. Board up windows, install storm shutters, or tape windows to prevent flying glass. Move any outdoor items, such as lawn furniture, signs, garbage cans, and tools inside. Things can get blown about and cause damage to other parts of the home.

During a Flood

If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Do not stay at home and hope for the best. Local first responders will do their best to help those who are trapped and cannot evacuate. Contact healthcare providers if you are sick and need medical help. If there is a medical emergency, call 911. Be sure to keep up to date on the status of the flooding by listening to Weather Radio or a local alert system. 

Do not ever walk, swim, or drive through flooded areas, and be sure to stay off bridges that cover fast-moving water. Fast-moving rivers can wash bridges away without any warning. If you are trapped in fast-moving water, stay inside the car. If the water is rising, get on the roof of the car. If trapped in a building, get to the highest floor, but only go onto the roof if necessary. 

After a Flood

Once a flood is over, pay attention to rescue squads and police for information about when to return home. Do not drive except in emergencies. People with asthma or respiratory diseases should not go into buildings with leaks or mold growth. Watch for snakes and other animals that may have made their way into the house while you were gone. 

There is a great risk of electrocution. Do not touch electronics if they are wet. Turn off the electricity to prevent shocks. If using a generator, use it only outdoors and away from windows. Never bring a generator inside. 

No one wants to go through a flood, but keep these tips in mind to help minimize loss and damage.