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Flood Safety

Learn how to keep your family safe during a flood, and how to clean up a flooded home.

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If you are in immediate need of help, please contact your local Red Cross or find an open shelter.

About


Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Flooding often occurs following a hurricane, thawing snow, or several days of sustained rain. Flash floods occur suddenly, due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area. Learn what to do to keep your loved ones safe!

Know the Difference!

  1. flood icon

    A flood/flash flood WATCH means a flood or flash flood is possible.

  2. flood icon

    A flood/flash flood WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon. TAKE IMMEDIATE PRECAUTIONS!

Before


VIDEO: 3 Easy Steps to Prepare

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Prepare in Advance

  • Assembling an emergency preparedness kit.
  • Creating a household evacuation plan that includes your pets.
  • Staying informed about your community’s risk and response plans.
  • Educating your family on how to use the Safe and Well website.
  • Download the Emergency App for iPhone >> or for Android >>
  • How to Prepare Before a Flood

    • Talk with your family about what to do if a flood watch or warning is issued. Discussing floods ahead of time helps reduce fear, especially for younger children.
    • Ensure that every member of your family carries a Safe and Well wallet card.
    • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts:
    • Find out if you are located in a floodplain, which is considered a Special Flood Hazard Area. If so, you are still eligible for flood insurance. Check with your city or county government (start with the Building or Planning Department) to review the Flood Insurance Rate Maps, published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
    • Find out if local streams or rivers flood easily.
    • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box. You may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged during a flood. Take pictures on a phone and keep copies of important documents and files on a flashdrive that you can carry with you on your house or car keys.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit for your companion animals.
  • Ensure that any outbuildings, pastures, or corrals are protected in the same way as your home.
  • If installing or changing fence lines, consider placing them in such a way that your animals are able to move to higher ground in the event of flooding.
    • If you live in a floodplain, elevate and reinforce your home to make damage less likely during a flood.
    • Check with a professional to:
      • Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to floors that are less likely to be flooded. An undamaged water heater may be your best source of fresh water after a flood.
      • Install check valves in plumbing to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home. (As a last resort, when floods threaten, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins.)
      • Construct barriers such as levees, berms, and flood walls to stop floodwater from entering the building (if permitted by local building codes).
      • Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage through cracks.
    • Use sand bags when flooding is expected:
      • It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, creating a wall one foot high and 20 feet long.
      • Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers, and time to place them properly.
      • If a flood is expected, some communities will offer free sandbags to residents. Be sure to watch or listen to the news so you can access these resources.
    Remember: standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding but flood insurance does. Get information at www.FloodSmart.gov.

    FACT vs. FICTION

    Fiction:


    Fill your sinks and bathtubs for drinking water in case flooding water interrupts or contaminates the public water supply.

    Fact:


    Water stored in bathtubs and sinks should never be used for drinking or for bathing young children because lead can leak from the glaze in bathtubs and sinks into water stored in them. However, you can use water stored in bathtubs and sinks for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing.
    Right Before a Flood
  • Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations. Find a local emergency shelter.
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or other medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
  • Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.
  • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing.
  • Fill your car's gas tank, in case you need to evacuate.
  • Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, indoors.
  • Turn off propane tanks to reduce the potential for fire.
  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
  • Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities to prevent damage to your home or within the community. If you shut your gas off, a professional is required to turn it back on.
  • Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that may occur.
  • Consider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially any large or numerous animals. Waiting until the last minute could be fatal for them and dangerous for you.
  • Where possible, move livestock to higher ground. If using a horse or other trailer to evacuate your animals, move sooner rather than later.
  • Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of evacuation.
  • During


    Staying Safe Indoors
  • Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
  • Boil tap water until water sources have been declared safe.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Don’t use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded.
  • Dispose of any food that comes into contact with flood water .
  • Staying Safe Outdoors
  • Don't walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.
  • If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
  • Don't walk on beaches or riverbanks.
  • Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc. can become filled with water.
  • FACT vs. FICTION

    Fiction:


    If you have a truck or SUV, it’s okay to drive across rushing flood water.

    Fact:


    Just two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks. Never try to drive across rushing flood water.

    After


    After a Flood:
  • Let friends and family know you’re safe. Register yourself as safe on the Safe and Well website
  • If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
  • Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Promote emotional recovery by following these tips.
  • Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Help people who require special assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
  • Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around your home.
  • If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water. Report them immediately to the power company.
  • Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities & systems after a flood.
  • If any gas or electrical appliances were flooded, don’t use them until they have been checked for safety.
  • Dispose of any food that has come into contact with flood water.
  • Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes.
  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, and be cautious when cleaning up.
  • Learn more about how to clean up after a flood, including the supplies you’ll need, how to sanitize food contact surfaces, and how to repair water damage.
  • Be careful when moving furnishings or debris, because they may be waterlogged and heavier.
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected. This includes mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud. When in doubt, throw it out. This includes canned goods, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and containers with food or liquid that has been sealed shut.
  • Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage. If the water is pumped out completely in a short period of time, pressure from water-saturated soil on the outside could cause basement walls to collapse.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.
  • Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to higher floors if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded. This will prevent damage. An undamaged water heater may be your best source of fresh water after a flood.
  • Install check valves in plumbing to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Construct barriers such as levees, berms, and flood walls to stop floodwater from entering the building. Permission to construct such barriers may be required by local building codes.
  • Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage through cracks.
  • FACT vs. FICTION

    Fiction:


    You will never be able to buy flood insurance if your property has been flooded in the past.

    Fact:


    You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance after your property has flooded, provided your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Check with your local emergency management office for more information.
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