Before the Flood
According to the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner
We may not be able to control weather conditions, but with only a little bit of planning, we can take all possible precautions to ensure our personal safety and protect our homes from severe damage. Here are some measures you can take to safeguard your home and family:
Find out how vulnerable your home is to flooding by determining the elevation of your property.
Evaluate your insurance coverage once a year to make sure your home is fully covered. As new construction grows in certain areas, more flood-plains are sometimes created.
If your home is in a flood-prone area, contact the National Flood Insurance program to learn what mitigation measures you can take in advance.
Contact your local emergency management agency to learn how to construct proper protective measures around your home.
If you live in a flood-prone area, keep these materials on hand: sandbags, plywood, lumber, plastic sheeting, trash bags, shovels, work boots and gloves.
Purchase a weather radio. These special, battery-operated radios cost as little as $20 and are available at many hardware and appliance stores and other retail outlets.
Put together a disaster survival kit. Keep the following supplies near at hand and put them in a water-tight container: flashlight with extra batteries, battery-powered radio and weather radio, first aid kit, medicines, eyeglasses, drinking water, non-perishable foods, change of clothes, cash and credit cards, and copies of all important papers.
Plan two evacuation routes in advance. Don’t wait until threatening weather conditions occur before trying to determine your route to safety. Be aware of streams, drainage channels and low areas in your region that are prone to flooding, so that your evacuation routes are not cut off.
Do not park your vehicle near streams or rivers, especially during threatening weather conditions.
After the Flood
Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Floodwaters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories and storage buildings. Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics and medicines are health hazards. When in doubt, throw them out.
Soaked carpeting and padding should be pulled up and discarded.
Look before you step. After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
The use of large fans can speed the drying process and curtail the development of mold.
Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Most of these drownings occur during flash floods. Six inches of rapidly moving water can knock you off your feet. If you must go through an area where water is standing, use a pole or stick to make sure that the ground is solid under the surface.
Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Don’t drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. Electrocution is also a major killer in floods. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your utility company or local emergency manager.
If the water level got so high that appliances were soaked, turn off your electricity until they can dry out. Some appliances, such as television sets, can shock you even after they have been unplugged. Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don’t smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out.
Carbon monoxide exhaust kills. Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machine outdoors. The same goes for camping stoves. Fumes from charcoal are especially deadly; if you must cook with charcoal, use it only outdoors.
Watch for animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn items over and scare away small animals.
Are you covered for flood damage? Policies for mobile or manufactured homes may include coverage for flood damage, unlike standard home policies. Owners of traditional site-built homes can purchase federal flood coverage in addition to a standard homeowners policy. However, their community must participate in the federal National Flood Insurance Program. A community cannot be covered unless it has joined the program.
Flood damage to automobiles is covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto policy.