A little rain or water puddle can be a big deal inside your home. With unpredictable weather, it’s never too soon to prepare for flooding and the impact it can have. We narrowed down five big takeaways to prepare for flash floods and other water damage.
Flood statistics to keep in mind
The World Health Organization shared surprising statistics and facts to keep in mind when planning for your family’s safety.
- 75% of deaths from flood disasters result from drowning.
- Nearly 80-90% of natural hazards and disasters over the past decade resulted from floods, severe storms, cyclones, and droughts.
- Floods are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change.
- From 1998-2017, floods affected more than 2 billion people worldwide.
Get a flood insurance policy
The Federal Emergency Management Agency reported that one inch of water could cost up to $25,000 worth of damage. And most home insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. You’ll need a separate policy to cover the damage cost of your home and valuables. Without the right coverage, you may have to pay for damage and repairs out of pocket.
Flood insurance policies may be recommended for homeowners, renters, and businesses. Some mortgages and leases require it, especially if the property is in a flood zone. It’s available to anyone within FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, which spans 23,000 locations.
If you live in a flood zone or think that your home may be susceptible to flood damage, it’s best to get a flood insurance policy. Keep in mind that some insurance providers will stop providing flood insurance policies before major storms or hurricanes hit. The policy also takes 30 days to go into effect. Check with your home insurance holder to see if flood insurance is available. If not, the NFIP can assist.
Make copies of documents
If there’s flood or water damage, you’ll need to secure your valuables and documents quickly before they’re ruined. Some experts recommend storing documents in a waterproof bag, but we recommend scanning your most important documents and securing them using cloud storage. If there’s a flood, you can worry less about water damaging them and know they’re secure. It’s best to save any policies, deeds, banking, or personal information as soon as possible. You can also use a USB drive, lockbox, or safe to secure your papers. When you scan your documents, make a list of emergency contacts and scan it, too.
Pack an emergency kit
Even if your home isn’t prone to flooding, it’s a good idea to have an emergency kit packed for any danger that strikes. The American Red Cross recommends packing these items and a few others:
- Cellphone and chargers
- Personal documents and emergency contact information
- Personal hygiene items
It’s recommended to have at least three days worth of emergency supplies. Keep your kit in a place that’s easy to find, away from direct heat or sunlight, and dry. And remember to replace any necessary items annually.
Create an evacuation plan
If your home is flooding, you’ll need to exit immediately. It only takes a few inches of water to become dangerous. It’s best to have a backup plan if one area of your home is flooded. You should also have a mode of transportation and a safe place planned ahead of time, especially if your household members get separated from one another. Remember to choose a place that has higher ground and is less likely to flood. Avoid your car as a safe place, as it is also likely to flood. If you’re driving to a safe place, remember to watch out for flooded areas. As the old saying goes, “Turn around, don’t drown.” Report the flooded area to your local emergency responders and find a safer route.
Pay attention to evacuation orders and routes for a safe escape when told to do so. If you notice sparks, submerged outlets, or other electrical dangers, evacuate immediately. But it’s best to unplug cords if you have time before a flood.
Remember to think about your pets when preparing for a flood. Be sure to pack enough water, food, and other supplies. Also, think about the escape route that’s best for them.
Keep clean water handy
Water contamination after a flood can be dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend not using flood water for any reason. Wash your hands after coming in contact with it, and keep children and pets away from it. Avoid bathing in rivers, sewers, or other natural water sources because they’re likely to be contaminated, too.
Before there’s a flood, it’s best to have clean water handy in case water gets contaminated. Experts also shared a few other tips to handle water pressure and contamination.
- Fill bathtubs, sinks, and jugs with clean water before flooding.
- Boil water for 10 minutes before use until your water system is safe for use.
- It’s best to have at least one gallon of water per person per day that’s safe to use.
If you have chemicals submerged in floodwater, such as propane tanks, call your local fire department for help because they can lead to fires or explosions if not handled properly.
The bottom line: What to do during a flood warning
Most importantly, it’s vital to know what to do once you’re alerted of a flood watch or warning in your area. If your area is under a flood warning, you should take action immediately. Here’s what Ready.gov recommends:
- Find safe shelter on higher ground.
- If you’re out and see flooded areas, remember to turn around. Don’t drown!
- If you’re in your car, get on the roof to avoid the rising water.
- Know your flood risk based on your home’s location.
- Keep your emergency kit handy and think about your safe escape routes.
- Pay attention to your local weather channel and listen for evacuation updates to stay safe.
Remember, floods can be dangerous to your health, home, and community. It’s best to plan and prepare for flood dangers as a family ahead of time to stay safe.