Natural disasters like floods can turn your life upside down and destroy your home and possessions. While there is no foolproof method to completely avoid the impact of a flood, a little preparation can go a long way to reduce a flood's effects. Develop a family flood plan and take measures to protect your important belongings and documents. Prepare your home to resist rising floodwaters. When a flood is imminent, prepare for evacuation as soon as possible.
Insure your home against water damage with flood insurance. Use private flood insurance or enrol in flood insurance with the National Flood Insurance Program, offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Develop a family disaster plan and ensure all your family members know what to do in the event of a flood. Plan your evacuation route to higher ground and away from potential flood zones. Contact your town government and ask about emergency shelter locations. Alternatively, contact relatives or friends who live away from the flood zone for emergency shelter. If you have pets, develop a plan to keep them safe.
Keep copies of your insurance policies and an inventory of your valuables. If you have valuable artwork or jewellery, get them appraised. Gather these documents together with other important documents such as your financial records and birth certificates. Store them in a waterproof box.
Elevate the equipment in your basement, such as your water heater and any electronics. Ensure that your fuel tank is securely anchored to the floor.
Install a backflow valve on your sewage system to prevent the contents from backing up into your house.
Seal cracks in your basement with masonry caulk designed to prevent water leakage.
Grade the ground outside your home to slope away from the structure. Grade it at a 5 per cent to 10 per cent slope to direct floodwaters away from your home.
Close the main gas valve and turn off the utilities if a flood approaches your home.
Pack essential belongings such as clothes, personal hygiene items, bottled water and medications. Pack a battery-powered radio to stay informed of the latest conditions. Prepare for an order to evacuate to higher ground as soon as possible, even if the authorities have not yet called for an evacuation in your area.
Move furniture and other belongings that you cannot pack to a higher floor.
Avoid driving if the roads are already flooded. If water is already rising in your home go to a top floor or your roof. Bring a few essential items such as a cell phone, medications, a radio and bottled water. Bring a white sheet to signal for help.
Disinfect your skin if you have come into contact with floodwater. Use bottled water and antibacterial soap.
If you have advanced warning of a flood, consider building a wall of sandbags around your home. However, if authorities issue evacuation orders, you will still need to leave.