Whether you live in a flood-prone place or there’s merely the possibility of a rising water line in your area, preparation is everything when it comes to flooding. Every household and workplace is different, but if you’re wondering about some common essential steps to take to help you prepare for a flood, here are five (5) good places to start.
As the snow falls and the drifts get higher, we are all familiar with the approaching seasonal end-game – even Punxsutawney Phil has stated the “melt” is less than five (5) weeks away. While celebrated as a part of the right of Spring, while searching for those first green shoots to push their way out of the still cold and damp ground, we all know what comes next from the Mississippi Valley to the Gulf States and points north, south, east, and west. Mother Natures’ gift to us all which in some cases can be overwhelming. The potential for floods even without the storms that brought them to us last year.
Prepare for a flood with a kit
One of the first things you should do if you want to be prepared for a flood is also the most straightforward. No matter where you live or who you share your life with, it’s worth taking the time to gather the things you’ll need in the event of a disaster. From there, think about where you can place them so you can easily grab them in a hurry.
You can find lots of tips at the DHS’s Ready.gov page, but here are the highlights for what you should have ready:
- Any special-needs supplies, especially for children, seniors, and pets
- Three (3) days’ worth of food (non-perishable)
- One (1) gallon of water per day for each person
- Multiple flashlights
- Emergency Radio with a hand-crank as well as batteries and a solar recharger built-in
- Well-stocked first aid kit, and the knowledge to use all its contents correctly
- A survival whistle for each person, and some practiced signals
- The cell/mobile phone just in case its infrastructure magically survives, a method to charge it off-grid
- A ham radio because the bullet above is sketchy at best
- Firestarter – weatherproof container with matches
Again, for a full list from the government, consult some of the DHS pages about emergency preparedness.
And, as a prepper don’t forget the other essentials:
- A dependable knife and a backup in a pack as these can be lost
- A weapon that you are safe, familiar with, and accurate within times of need
- A plan as to where you are going
After you’ve gathered these supplies, consider how and where you’ll stage them. Place a few “go bags” in a known, public spot in your house. You should always have one in your automobiles and one at your place of work if you commute there via public transportation.
Make a Plan for Communication and Regrouping
Flash floods are proof enough that anybody, nearly anywhere, can be caught flat-footed by mother nature. However, even the most unpredictable flood is no excuse for not having a plan in place. Unless you live by yourself, you owe it to your family to put your heads together and come up with plans for all of the eventualities you can think of where your ability to rejoin or communicate with each other is compromised in any way.
As you put together your household plan — or a plan for your workplace, for that matter — everybody under your roof should be confident answering the following questions:
- If a flood happens, will I have the means to receive official warnings and alerts?
- Where will I seek shelter?
- What is the safest, least flood-prone route I can take to my destination?
- How will I get in touch with my family?
The people in our lives are our network and safety net, but that safety net will have big holes in it if you don’t spend time spelling out the details and making sure everybody has the same expectations should you become separated. Suppose you end up separated from your cell phone — do you have all of the relevant phone numbers memorized, recorded and with your supplies?
Once you’ve hammered out a plan, commit it to paper and practice it with your family, including the routes you’d take to make it to safety — either together or apart.
Have a Getaway Vehicle
When push comes to shove, one of the best things you can do for yourself and the ones who depend on you, if you live someplace where floods are common or a possibility, is to own a getaway vehicle. That almost always means a boat. Every person living from South Central Texas to Miami and up to the Jersey Shore now knows the value of a boat of some type.
Knowing how your boat will be powered, and that you’ll have access to extra fuel or power, is essential. Your choices come down to battery-powered or gas-powered, both of which have their ups and downs, or self-powered. Some boat batteries are rated for up to 15 days of operation with a full charge, something to know before you buy.
With a boat it is recommended that you avoid soft-bottom boats so displaced wreckage doesn’t puncture it. Apart from that, remember to choose a model that provides all the storage space you’ll need and all the seating required to accommodate your entire family. It should also be highly maneuverable and lightweight, in case you ever need to carry it to dry land.
Following the mantra of “any port in a storm” there are some less expensive options, with small footprints. More for the individual.
Prepare — And Upgrade — Your Property
For one reason or another, it’s not always possible to live outside a flood plain. After all, some of these regions might only see significant flooding events once in a blue moon or every few years.
No matter the frequency or likelihood of flooding in your area, you can take some measures around your home and property to ensure it’s prepared to withstand oncoming waters, whether it’s from heavy rains or a bonafide flood. Some examples include the following:
- Consider elevating your water heater, furnace and other appliances so they’re out of harm’s way.
- Have a professional look over your plumbing system and install check valves. These ensure water can’t enter your home if the water flow is reversed in your pipes.
- Take a look yourself, or have a landscaping professional help you, and appraise areas on your property that could benefit from retaining walls and other barriers. Even the wise deployment of sandbags could save some of your property from harm.
- Seal any cracks and imperfections in your foundation and basement walls. Choose a waterproofing compound and apply it according to the directions to provide another defense against water intrusion.
- If your home has a sump pump, ensure it has a backup power source. If it doesn’t have one, you should seriously consider installing one.
Your property is probably your biggest investment, so take the time required to make sure it’s as prepared as you can make it.
Look After Your Home and Body Systems
Here’s another obvious — keep yourself and your family vaccinated. There’s no excuse not to. In the event of a flood or another type of natural disaster, there’s no telling the debris and other materials you might come into contact with. Ensuring your loved ones are protected against tetanus and other threats is an easy thing to do.
After the flood watch has been declared, you can take several precautions to prepare your home’s systems, too, now that your body’s systems are as ready as you can make them. It’s essential that you shut off your electricity and your gas in the event a flood becomes imminent, and assuming you have warning enough to do so. A flood can be bad enough, but losing your home to a preventable gas leak and the resulting explosion is almost certainly the worst-case scenario.
You will find further tips to prepare for a flood specific to your circumstances and your family’s needs. As you do, ensure you spend time addressing them before severe weather rolls around. There might be some scrambling required today — and maybe tomorrow — before you feel confident you’ve planned adequately. But if you do it right, it means a lot less worrying on the day the flood comes.
Article submitted by Scott Huntington.