When the winter weather begins to fade, many of us welcome spring with open arms. While warm sunshine and the return of outdoor activities is refreshing, spring can also bring torrential rains with some tragic results. In fact, floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States, with total flood claims averaging $1.9 billion annually over the past decade. If you are in an area that is prone to flooding or even if there is the remote possibility of high water, here are several tips to prepare and keep your family safe.
What You Need to Know About Floods
If your area has flooded in the past or is expecting periods of heavy rain, know the signs of possible trouble. Flooding will often occur after heavy snow thaws, following a hurricane, or after several days of heavy rain. A flash flood can happen quickly when water rises in a low-lying area or along a body of water.
Stay tuned to your local news or the National Weather Service's flood warning system. If you hear that there is a "flash flood watch," that means that a flood is possible. If you learn that there is a "flash flood warning," that means that flooding is already happening or is imminent and you should take precautions.
Preparing Your Home for a Flood
The best defense against flooding is preparation. While you may not be able to save all of your possessions in a major flood, you will at least be able to protect your family. The Red Cross recommends that you begin by creating an emergency evacuation plan. In the case of minor flooding, you may just need to take precautions to save some property.
Find out if you live in a flood plain. Your county or state website should have this information. These areas are more prone to flooding, and you may be required to carry flood insurance if you have a mortgage. If a flood is expected, you can probably collect sandbags at your local fire station or community center.
Prepare your home further by keeping your electrical panel, furnace, and other key systems raised off of the floor. Install check valves in your home's plumbing system to prevent backups and seal any cracks in basement walls and foundations.
What to Do If a Flood Occurs
If your family experiences flood conditions, follow the directions of local authorities. If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Your life is worth much more than a few possessions. Avoid swimming, walking or driving through flood waters. These waters are both dangerous from currents and could be contaminated from municipal sewer backups.
Whether you need to leave your home or not, let friends and family know that you are safe and stay in touch. If you are forced to leave your home, stay away until authorities let you know that it is safe. Cleaning up after a flood can be a tough job and an unexpected expense. If your structure and possessions are damaged or destroyed, be sure to contact your flood insurance company for assistance. The most important thing is that you and your family remain safe and secure when one of these disasters strike.
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