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A Flood Guide
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Floods can happen anywhere in the United States and it does happen more frequently compared to other types of natural disasters. It also results in the costliest damage to properties. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of Americans have experienced massive flood damage caused by natural events like powerful hurricanes. Ice jams, heavy rainfall, and dam failure are also common causes of flooding.
Just as there are different causes of floods, there are also different ways in which it can happen. In some instances, the floodwaters rise gradually giving people time to act. However, the most devastating flood damage results from flash floods that occur within minutes. Although federal and local governments are striving to prevent flooding in many areas or mitigate its effects, individuals must also take steps to protect themselves and their families.
Preparing for a Flood
Planning ahead is the best way to minimize potential flood damage. On the practical side, there are several things you can do such as:
- Install a sump pump in your basement or a zero reverse flow valve in the basement floor.
- Install downspout drainage about 6 feet away from the base of your house.
- Apply weather protection sealer around the windows of the basement and the base of doors on the ground level.
- Do not keep important documents in the basement.
When a flood is about to happen, do the following:
- Unplug electrical equipment and, if possible, move them and other belongings to a higher-level room.
- Turn off the electricity supply at the fuse box. Never do this when flood has already entered the house and you are standing in floodwater.
- Switch off the gas shutoff valve at the main gas meter outside as well as the basement furnace.
- Listen to radio news for updates and other important information.
During a Flood
- Keep listening to the radio for flood-related announcements.
- If you are ordered by local officials to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Keep your disaster supply kit at hand in a waterproof and portable bag. Hopefully, you've prepared a kit, but if not, take only necessary items when evacuating.
- When outside, avoid walking in fast, running water and driving through floodwaters.
- Do not cross a bridge if you see that the water is already high and moving quickly.
- If your vehicle stalls in the middle of quickly-rising floodwater, leave the car immediately and save yourselves.
- Obey evacuation procedures and take only routes that are recommended by officials.
- If you do not receive evacuation orders, it is still best to prepare for evacuation should it suddenly become unsafe for you to stay in your residence.
After a Flood
When the flooding is over, wait for authorities to advise you to return home before doing so. If the main electrical switch was not turned off before you left, have an electrician check your home first and declare it safe before reentering. Likewise, have all your appliances, electrical systems and main fuse box inspected and tested by an electrician before operating them.
Be extra careful when reentering your home and watch out for gaps on the floor, broken glass and surfaces that may collapse. Floodwater contains contaminants so flood-damaged household items and all consumables exposed to floodwater must be discarded. Check with authorities whether it is safe to consume or use the public water supply. Document the flood damage through video or photographs. Report the incident immediately to your insurance agent.