In recent years, the world has been experiencing natural disasters, especially flooding, at unprecedented levels and greater frequency. Floods can happen in any state and at any time of the year. They can be due to heavy rainfall, when snows melt too quickly, when rivers overflow, when dams or levees break, or when ocean water comes ashore in major weather events like tropical storms or hurricanes.
As the climate changes and sea levels continue to rise, so does the chance of major flooding. Scientists estimate that the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 -8 inches already and will continue to rise. It is estimated that by the year 2030, century floods will be much more common.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports that from 2015 to 2016 the amount paid for flooding events in the United States was more than $15.1 billion dollars. Because of increased frequency and severity of floods, it’s important for homeowners to be aware and to prepare in advance of a major flooding event wherever they live.
Steps for Flood Preparedness
One of the most important things to do in order to prepare for a flood is to know your risk. To find out the level of risk to your home, visit the website for your city, county or state. All of these government agencies are likely to have flood maps for your area. If you find that your home is at risk, it is a good idea to go over your current homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to check for flood coverage.
It is important to note that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that more than 20% of flood claims come from outside of high-risk flood damage zones. It’s a good idea to go over any questions or concerns with your insurance agent before a potential disaster strikes. Most insurers will not cover flooding and require you to buy flood insurance from the federal government. Talk with a water damage restoration company in your area to know more about how they handle insurance claims.
Making a Home Flood Preparedness Plan
Discuss with all members living in your household about flood preparedness. Decide on the responsibilities for each person and how you will work together in case of a flooding emergency. Make sure it includes the following steps:
Listen to your local television or radio stations for information or have a NOAA radio in your household that is tuned to the frequency for your area for emergency alert, information and updates.
Be aware of evacuation routes and where shelters are for your area. Have contact phone numbers for each family member in case of a flooding emergency.
Create an Emergency Kit – Whether or not you are planning on evacuating from your home, it’s a good idea to keep on hand plenty of bottled water, non-perishable food, batteries, medications, and other necessary medical supplies on hand.
Keep important documents, computer files and backups in a safe place.
Protect Furniture and Household Items – When floods are on the way, move all outdoor furniture inside. If there is time, also move furniture, electronics and other household items on lower floors likely to be affected by flooding to a higher floor or attic space.
Turn off Propane and Gas – To lessen the potential of fire, turn off propane and natural gas to your home if a flood is en route. After the flood, call a professional to inspect your pipes before turning it back on. This can prevent an explosion.
Turn off your electricity if possible to prevent the potential of electric shock.
A barrier of sandbags can potentially lessen the damage to your home caused by flooding and can help divert water and debris away from structures. When putting sandbags around your home, be sure to place them lengthwise and parallel to the direction of the flow of floodwaters. Stack the bags in the lowest lying areas around your home first, and then continue to create a barrier to keep water away from doors, windows and other openings.
If your home becomes flooded, it is important to begin the cleanup process as soon as possible. Flood water may expose your home to environmental dangers as well as provide a breeding ground for mold and other bacteria. Water must be mitigated and removed and any materials such as drywall, wood flooring, furniture and other household items must be discarded as soon as possible in order for you and your family to recover after a flood. Check your water supply lines and ask a plumbing contractor to do an inspection.
Michael is the Head of Customer Care Department at ServiceProsLocal.com with primary focus on client satisfaction. He blogs about everything related to home building, improving and decorating. Very concerned of current ecological situation, especially water scarcity issues.