How to Stay Safe in a Flood
Whether it be by storm surge, levee failures, or simply heavy rains causing flash flooding, on average nearly 100 people die each year from flooding according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). More than half of those deaths occur in vehicles. Death by flood is the second most common weather related death, behind heat deaths. Other than deaths, floods have many devastating effects. Floods cause more than $40 Billion worth of damage worldwide annually and most home insurance policies don’t cover flood damage, the bill is left to the homeowner. Worse than that, people lose sentimental possessions like photographs that may have been taken generations ago, of people who have long been gone. Here are some ways to prepare and what to do should you find yourself in a flood.
Find out what type of flood risks are in your area. You can visit FEMA’s Flood Maps Service Center for that information. If you live near a creek, bottom of a hill, or a flash-flood prone area, be sure to monitor weather forecasts for any heavy rain that could fall on your area. Learn evacuation routes if you live near a levee system. If you know a flood is coming, be sure to gather supplies and medication in case you have to leave in an emergency. Remember to bag extra pet food. Store all important documents in waterproof containers. If you have a sump pump, make sure it is in working condition. Also you need to purchase flood insurance. As mentioned before, most home insurance policies don’t cover flood damage.
If an evacuation is ordered, do so immediately. Never drive or walk through flood waters. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” If you don’t have enough warning, or none at all, and your house becomes flooded you should go to the highest level. Don’t get in the attic because rising flood waters may trap you there and you could drown. If water reaches the top floor, and you can do so, climb onto the roof and wait. Try to call or signal for help. It will eventually come.
After flood waters have receded and emergency personnel have deemed it safe to return, be very cautious. There may be snakes or other animals in your house, so use thick gloves and boots during clean up. Never touch wet electrical equipment or use electrical equipment if you are standing in water. Don’t wade through flood water because there may be powerlines that you cannot see. If you use a generator, be sure to keep it outside. The fumes will kill you if used indoors.
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Sources used: Ready.gov, The Weather Channel, National Geographic.