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How to Prepare for a House Flood

Did you know that flooding is the most common type of natural disaster in the world, with 40% of natural disasters involving flooding?

From hurricanes and tropical storms to snow storms and melting snow, flooding is something that can occur at any time. If you live in a high-risk flood zone, it’s essential that you’re prepared for a house flood.

image - How to Prepare for a House Flood
How to Prepare for a House Flood

The good news is preparing for a flood is easier than you think. You’ll need to keep reading this guide to learn everything you need to know!

Determine if Your Home Is in a High-Risk Area

Your first step in preparing for home flooding is determining whether you’re in a high, moderate, or low-risk area.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) set up these flood zone areas. You can go to the FEMA website and search by your address. Over 20,000 communities are in flood zones, so it’s essential to see where you stand.

Flood zones are specific categories, such as high risk, which is labeled as an A or V on the map. Moderate to low-risk zones are labeled as B, C, or X. Some zones have an undetermined level of risk because they haven’t had an analysis yet.

Once you determine this, you’ll be better able to form a plan when bad weather strikes. Depending on your risk, you’ll need to consider purchasing flood insurance if you don’t already have it.

Get Flood Insurance

Most mortgage lenders will require homeowners in high-risk areas to purchase flood insurance. The federal law also requires anyone with government financing who lives in a high-risk flood area to buy flood insurance.

If you live in a moderate to low-risk area, your mortgage company might require you to purchase flood insurance, but this isn’t always the case.

It’s important to realize that homeowners insurance won’t cover flood damage most of the time. Typically, flood insurance is a separate policy that protects your home and possessions in the event of a flood.

You can get flood insurance in a few different ways. First, you can check out the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The federal government backs NFIP, and it’s available for business owners, homeowners, and renters in high, moderate, or low-risk flood areas.

To find out if your community participates in this insurance, you’ll need to visit this page for more information.


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Private Flood Insurance Coverage

You can also go through your insurance company for private flood insurance. Many insurance companies offer NFIP plans or other types of private flood insurance policies. Flood insurance typically covers belongings and damage to your home, which includes:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical and furnace systems
  • Appliances like refrigerators and stoves
  • Carpeting
  • Built-in cabinets and bookcases
  • Washers and dryers
  • Walls and staircases
  • Detached garages
  • Belongings like original artwork

To determine how much flood insurance coverage you need, it’s best to reach out to your insurance company. Your home’s value plays a significant part in determining this.

Learn About Emergency Notifications

A part of storm or hurricane preparedness is understanding what certain emergency notifications actually mean. Emergency notifications are based on scientific predictions and give you adequate time to seek shelter.

Emergency notifications generally come in specific categories. A flood warning means a flood will happen very soon or is happening right now. You must take action immediately if you’re advised to evacuate during a flood warning.

A flash flood watch means there is a high possibility of a sudden flood, usually due to heavy rain. You should prepare for the possibility of evacuating to higher ground.

A flash flood warning means a flash flood is happening now or is imminent. In this case, you’ll need to evacuate immediately.

You might also see other flood alerts like river flooding or coastal flooding. Evacuation notices may also be issued if there is a threat of flood. Evacuation notices mean you need to leave the area immediately.

Have an Evacuation Plan Ready

Your next step to emergency preparedness is to have an evacuation plan ready in case you have to leave your home in a hurry.

An evacuation plan should start with planning where your family will meet if you’re in separate locations. Decide on this location beforehand so you’re ready to go in the event of a flood.

Next, you’ll need to become familiar with the various evacuation routes in your area. It’s best to follow the recommended evacuation routes and not take shortcuts, as these alternate routes can often be blocked during bad weather.

If you own a vehicle, be sure to keep the tank full of gas. It’s also wise to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times in case of an unplanned emergency. Remember, gas stations are often closed during emergencies, and you won’t be able to fill up.

When there is a mass evacuation, it’s best to have at least 100 miles of gasoline in your tank. It’s also a good idea to purchase a gas can to fill it up along the way.

Gather Important Documents

You’ll also need to ensure you gather important documents and place them together in a folder. You can also consider making copies of these documents and putting the originals in a safety deposit box. These documents include the following:

  • Marriage certificates
  • Passports
  • Drivers licenses
  • Wills
  • Birth certificates
  • Insurance policies

Children

You’ll also need to ask your children’s daycare or school about their emergency procedures and policies. Be sure to find out their process for contacting families during an emergency situation.

Next, you’ll need to authorize an additional person to pick up your children if you cannot and provide this information to the schools and daycares.

Pets

If you need to evacuate, it’s essential to remember that most public shelters won’t allow pets. If you’re going to take your pets with you, research pet-friendly hotels or pet-boarding options both in your immediate area and in the area you plan to evacuate to.

Write down this information so that you have it available during an emergency.

Health Needs

You’ll also need to ensure you have medical documents that include personal health issues like allergies, medications, family medical history, and current medical conditions.

Make sure you have enough medical supplies and medication to last for at least a month. Keep in mind that during an emergency, pharmacies may close, and you might not have access to more medication immediately.

Make an Emergency Kit

You’ll need basic supplies when an emergency happens, and there is no power. You’ll need to make an emergency kit that’s easy to carry. Backpacks, suitcases, or a duffle bag work best. Make sure this kit is in an easy-to-reach location in your home.

A basic emergency kit should include the following:

  • At least two liters of water for each person
  • Canned food and energy bars
  • Can-opener
  • First aid medical kit
  • Extra car and house keys
  • Cash
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Prescription medication
  • Toiletries
  • A change of clothing and shoes for each person
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Blanket
  • Battery powered radio

Waterproof Your Basement

When your home is in a high-risk flood zone, it’s more susceptible to significant storm damage. So, you’ll need to install a battery-powered sump pump in your basement. Typically, you can also hook up your current sump pump to this battery supply.

Basically, you’ll need a system that can run on a generator or backup batteries. Storms and flooding will often knock out electricity for a week or more. It’s best to have a plumber or an electrician evaluate the system and make backup recommendations that will be best for your current setup.

Raise Electrical Components

Any switches, electrical sockets, and wiring should be at least 12 inches above flood levels. Doing this will reduce the amount of damage water can cause to your home during a flood.

It also prevents safety hazards from occurring in your home. Also, having an unanchored fuel tank in your basement can cause severe problems like oil spilling or a tear in the supply line. Be sure to have your fuel tank anchored to avoid these problems.

Waterproof Your Basement

Waterproofing your basement can be expensive, but it’s worth the expense if you have a flood in your home. You’ll need to call a professional company to have this done correctly.

Waterproofing involves filling in cracks, sealing openings, and applying a waterproof coating. Exterior waterproofing consists of placing a waterproof sealant on the exterior walls and is labor-intensive as the soil around the foundation needs to be removed.

In case of home water damage, it’s best to find a reputable company in your area ahead of time. Professional companies can help with water damage, restoration, and cleaning. Click here to read more information on the types of services you can expect.

Be Sure to Have a Backup Water Supply

Water is often not safe to drink after a flood. City water will need to be tested first by your local health department before you can drink it again.

Therefore, you’ll need to store at least five gallons of water. You can also look at buying a water filtration system.

It’s also important to have a backup toilet system in place in case the septic system is flooded. You can use a 5-gallon bucket and trash bags until the flooding recedes.

Use Sandbags

Although sandbags won’t completely keep the water out of your home, they can redirect the water flow effectively. Using sandbags will help to prevent water from entering your home through doors or windows.

You can find sandbags at your local hardware store. Most of the time, you’ll need to buy the bag and sand separately, but you can also find pre-filled sandbags online that can be delivered to your home. Additionally, there are self-inflating flood bags available that expand once you activate them with water.

Using sandbags takes practice, so be sure to do some research first. It’s best to place them on level ground. Stack them in front of entryways, basement windows, and garage doors.

You can even use sandbags inside your home, such as in your basement.

Move Valuables and Furniture to a Safe Place

If there is a flood watch, you should take the time to move valuables and furniture to a safe place. You should store valuables and essential documents in a waterproof safety deposit box.

If possible, move valuable furniture and sentimental items to your upper floors.

Next, gather any outdoor furniture and belongings that might be swept away during a flood. Be sure to store gardening tools, trashcans, bicycles, and lawn furniture indoors if possible.

Clean Out Gutters and Drains

Cleaning out gutters, drains, and downspouts will reduce the chances of water overflowing and causing more damage to your home.

You’ll also want to take the time to remove any branches and twigs from your roof. Also, trim all low-hanging branches. This will reduce the chances of anything obstructing the flow of water.

Create a Checklist to Refer to During a Flood Warning

It’s all too easy to go into panic mode during a flood warning. Having a checklist handy containing everything you need to do in case of a flood is essential.

First, if flooding occurs but it’s safe to stay in your home, you’ll need to fill containers, sinks, and bathtubs with water in case the water supply is contaminated.

While you still have power, ensure your cell phone is fully charged.

If you need to leave your home, you’ll need to prepare for power surges. In this case, unplug all appliances and turn off the propane tank if you have one. You’ll also need to turn off the main electricity from the main breaker switch.

Preparing for a House Flood

Now that you know how to prepare for a house flood, you can start making preparations today.

Remember to keep track of all weather alerts and update your evacuation plan if your family situation changes. Also, be sure to do more research on emergency preparedness and get professional help if you need more assistance with preparing your home.

For more home improvement, home design, and gardening tips, be sure to check out the rest of our blog today!