Be prepared: Flood safety tips


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We can’t always be 100% prepared for every wrench nature throws into our lives, but we can be well informed. Flooding is just one of those natural disasters that can wreak havoc on our lives, and National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 12 to 16, is dedicated to helping you learn as much as you can to get your homes, families and lives ready in case a flood strikes.

“Floods can happen at any time, anywhere across the United States, which means we all need to be prepared now,” said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Craig Fugate in a press release. “There are simple steps everyone can take to prepare for flooding, such as developing a family emergency plan, having an emergency supply kit and protecting your home or business from flooding by obtaining a flood insurance policy.”

There are a few different types of floods to watch out for:

• There are those that occur when too much rain falls or snow melts too quickly.
• Some develop slowly, while flash floods happen suddenly.
• Floods from hurricanes can devastate areas far inland from where the hurricane first hit the coast.
• Chunks of ice from a thawing river can block its flow and force water out of its banks.

But no matter how the flood develops, there are ways to prepare your families and homes. Here’s a quick hit of some of FEMA’s flood checklist:

• Prepare an emergency kit and family communications plan.
• Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
• Install “check valves” to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
• Listen to the radio or television for information during a flood.
• If there’s a possibility for a flash flood, move to higher ground.
• If you need to evacuate, secure your home, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor.
• Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so and disconnect electrical appliances. Don’t touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
• Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
• Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible.
• Listen for news reports to learn if the water supply is safe to drink.
• Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud from floodwaters can have sewage and chemicals.

Helpful links

Click here for NOAA’s National Weather Service, which offers flood outlooks and forecasts, including watches and life-saving warnings.

Read Fema.gov/blog throughout the week for more preparedness information.

Visit Floodsmart.gov to learn how to obtain a flood insurance policy.