How to Get Organized for Home Flooding Emergencies
March 25, 2019
Guest blog by Kacey Mya, the blogger behind The Drifter Collective
Not only are floods the most common type of natural disaster in the United States, but they’re also one of the costliest. From 2006 to 2015 alone, the number of flood-related insurance claims averaged $1.9 billion each year — and that’s not even including the massive flooding caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Florence, all of which caused water levels to spike.
It’s vital for flood-zone families to have a plan in preparation for this dangerous and damaging class of disaster. Here are nine of the best tips to get yourselves and your property ready for a flood.
Before flooding is even a threat, be sure to accomplish these tips:
1. Invest in Flood Insurance
Always start here, especially if your home sits within a flood zone. Most home insurance plans do not include flood protection, so ask your broker whether you need it. If the answer is “yes,” invest in the added coverage. According to FEMA, insurance can slash your post-flood costs to hundreds of dollars. Otherwise, it can cost thousands to repair a flood-damaged home.
2. Observe Your Property in the Rain
A good rainstorm can show you how water will flow around — and, potentially, into — your home. So, watch as the rain falls and drains from your yard. If it all rushes to one side of your house or seems to pool in one area, you’ll know where to concentrate any sandbags or other protections you place pre-flood.
3. Make a Note of All Valuables
Even though you defend your home from flood waters, they still might find a way inside. That’s why you want to know exactly what’s inside so that you can make an insurance claim that’s accurate — and accepted by the company.
Long before the threat of flood appears, spend a few hours logging all of the valuable items in your home. You can do so both on paper and with video or pictures. To that end, make a file with receipts and serial numbers for all of your big-ticket items, as this information will fortify and facilitate your claim, too.
4. Pick up a Generator
No matter how quickly flood waters subside, you and your family might not have electricity for days or weeks afterward. You won’t want to be scrambling to a home improvement store to buy a generator at that time, as the rest of your hometown will probably be doing the same thing.
So, prepare in advance and purchase a generator with the advice of a professional who can tell you how much power you’ll need. Be sure you place your generator somewhere safe from flood waters, although you should never choose an enclosed space. Generators emit carbon monoxide exhaust, which can be deadly if you or your family breathes it in.
As the Flood Approaches
Once you know that flooding is imminent, take these further steps to prepare:
5. Elevate Major Appliances
Start by elevating your home’s costliest appliances to prevent damage to them. You probably can’t carry your refrigerator or dishwasher to higher ground, though. Instead, prop them up on cinderblocks to give them some leverage over any flood water that enters your home. The Hi and Dri Adjustable Plastic Storage Pallet, shown to the right, is just what you need to keep items raised above the floor to prevent water damage.
6. Open the Windows
You’re probably wondering why you’d open the windows in the midst of a storm that’s wet enough to cause flooding. But opening them a little bit will reduce the amount of pressure, should flood waters rise to that level. Otherwise, your windows might all break.
7. Move Everything Upstairs
If you live in a two- or multi-story home, move as many of your personal belongings upstairs as you can. Everything from rugs to furniture to electronics should be taken to higher ground, starting with the most valuable items first. Try and safeguard sentimental family photos and sensitive documents, too — keep them in locking plastic bins at all times to protect them and store them quickly.
8. Clear out All Drains, Spouts and Gutters
Your home has a built-in drainage system designed to protect it from water damage. As rains pour down to cause a flood, you’ll want to ensure all these pipes can work at their most efficient level to safeguard your property. So, clear out any blockages from your gutters, downspouts and drains. Although they might not be able to save your home from flood damage, they can help reduce the severity of it at the very least.
9. Shut off Your Utilities
Finally, as you get ready to leave your home, be sure to switch off your water and gas lines, as well as your electricity. Not only will this step prevent damage to your home’s wiring and piping, but it will also prevent potentially hazardous contamination of the water or, worse yet, electrocution.
Protect What’s Most Important
No matter what happens to your property in the wake of a flood, what matters most is that you and your loved ones escape from the natural disaster unscathed. These nine tips will help you prepare in advance so that you can quickly evacuate and protect what’s most important. When the worst is over, you can go home, assess the damage and start to rebuild — together.
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