Did you know that floods are the most common natural disaster in America? The Red Cross reports that, every year, floods take more than 100 lives and cause more than $4 billion in damages.
Here are some tips everyone should know to prepare for that inevitable flood:
* Anticipate the Expected
You should know what impacts a flood could have on your home and property. The flow of water is easy to predict, and local terrain is a known factor. Try to estimate the damages if a tree was ripped from the ground and into your house or if debris should slide down the hill into your yard.
* Ask Questions
Local planning agencies have very good information about the location of flood plains and water flows throughout the community. Be sure to find out where your property is located relative to flood areas, and find out if there is a history of flooding where you live.
* Educate Yourself
Know the signs of imminent flooding and learn what type of alerts your community uses to warn citizens of impending floods.
* Get with the Plan
It's critical that you know what your community plans do to in case evacuation becomes necessary. Know how they will provide transportation and local emergency travel routes. Find out if there is a step-by-step plan you can follow to best cooperate with the community's effort.
* Insure your Property
Especially for people in flood-prone areas, normal home insurance will probably not cover flooding. But finding and having individual private flood insurance has many benefits:
- it covers specific losses
- it's usually relatively inexpensive
- it covers you even when your area is not declared a formal "disaster area"
- you may not have to repay property or reconstruction loans
- you know you will be paid because the National Flood Insurance Program backs all approved policies
- you may be able to get a partial payment very quickly after the event to begin repairs
* Protect Important Documents
Make sure your passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, deeds, stock certificates, and other important documents are in a secure, waterproof location and container. Also be sure it's in a place where you can get to it easily.
* Consider a Home Reconfiguration
If your fireplace, furnace, electric panel, or water heater is now in your basement or ground floor, consider having them moved to your attic. While this may be costly, it will save you in the long run, especially if you live in flood-prone area.
You should also find out about local building codes and requirements to find out whether you can build retaining walls and barriers to protect your home.
* Plug It Up
Check trap sewers in your house with check valves to be sure flood water can't leak into your house from the community's sewer system. During flood emergencies, you may want to use stoppers or corks to plug your tubs and sinks as well.
* Protect by Waterproofing
Be sure the walls of your basement and lower floors are watertight. Use waterproof compounds to seal cracks so that water can't get in.
* Keep Necessities at Hand
Be sure you have a flood kit by assuring there are a battery-operated radio and other supplies readily available. Set aside some fresh drinking water, canned goods, extra clothing, and blankets in a dry area that won't be flooded. Most important, keep a first aid kit updated and well-supplied.
Careful preparation is the best way to prevent damage and injury from floods. Especially if you live in at low altitudes or in coastal areas, you are likely to have this experience at least once in your life. You'll be much happier if you know what to do and take the proper precautions before a flood washes through your life.
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