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Flood Preparedness: How to Prepare for Flooding

Storm Preppers - Flood Preparedness

When it comes to natural disasters, especially tropical storms and hurricanes, flood preparedness is key. This is because flooding is one of the most common and destructive occurrences with extreme tropical weather. Floods can happen anywhere, at any time, and can cause significant damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Being prepared for a flood can help keep you and your loved ones safe, and minimize damage to your property.

A flood safety checklist is an essential tool for anyone living in a flood-prone area. It can help you prepare for a flood, and ensure that you have everything you need to stay safe and comfortable during and after a flood. A good flood safety checklist should include items such as emergency supplies, evacuation plans, and important documents, among other things.

In this article, we will provide you basic steps on how to prepare for a flood. We will cover the essential items you need in your flood kit, how to create an evacuation plan, and what to do before, during and after a flood. By following this guide, you can be confident that will be prepared for any flood that comes your way.

Understanding Floods

Floods can be caused by heavy rainfall, overflowing rivers, storm surges, and tsunamis. Understanding floods can help you prepare for them and minimize the damage they cause. Here are some important facts to help you gain a better understanding of floods and flooding:

What Causes Floods

Floods can be caused by several factors. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Heavy rainfall
  • Overflowing rivers and streams
  • Storm surges caused by hurricanes or other severe storms
  • Tsunamis caused by earthquakes or other underwater disturbances

Types of Floods

There are different types of floods, and they are classified based on the cause, severity, and duration. Some of the most common types of floods include:

Type of FloodCauseSeverity
Riverine FloodsOverflowing rivers and streamsModerate to severe
Flash FloodsHeavy rainfall or sudden release of water from a dam or leveeSevere
Coastal FloodsStorm surges caused by hurricanes or other severe stormsModerate to severe
TsunamisUnderwater disturbances such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptionsSevere

Flood Severity Levels

Floods can be classified based on their severity levels, which correlate to the potential damage they can cause. Here are the different levels of flood severity:

  • Minor flooding: minimal or no property damage, but possibly some public threat or inconvenience.
  • Moderate flooding: some inundation of structures and roads near streams and rivers, but some evacuations may be necessary.
  • Major flooding: extensive inundation of structures and roads near streams and rivers, and possibly significant evacuations.
  • Catastrophic flooding: extensive and severe inundation of structures and roads near streams and rivers, and possibly significant evacuations.

Warning Systems

One of the core aspects of flood preparedness is understanding the warning systems. Warning systems are used to alert residents and first responders of expected bad weather and flooding. It is important to note the terms that may be used in weather alerts and have a clear understanding of what the terms mean. These terms will be useful in determining how you should respond.

  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible.
  • Flood Warning: Imminent threat where flooding is already occurring or will occur soon.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Imminent threat where flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon.

Flood Preparedness: What to Do Before a Flood

Before a flood threatens, the focus should be on creating a robust plan and getting ready in an organised manner.

You should prepare:

  • A list of emergency contacts
  • An evacuation plan
  • Supplies and equipment
  • Home preparation activity list
  • Insurance and important documents

Emergency Contacts

When preparing for a flood, it’s important to have a list of emergency contacts readily available. This list should include the phone numbers and addresses of local emergency services, such as the fire department and police station, as well as the contact information for your family members, friends, and neighbours. Make sure to keep this list in a waterproof container or store it electronically in a secure location.

Evacuation Plan

Developing an evacuation plan is crucial in the event of a flood. Determine the safest route to higher ground and make sure everyone in your household knows the plan. Identify multiple evacuation routes in case one becomes blocked or inaccessible. Practice the evacuation plan with your family and pets to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.

Supplies and Equipment

Having essential supplies and equipment on hand can help you weather the storm and stay safe during a flood. Stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water, and necessary medications. Keep a first aid kit, flashlights, and extra batteries in an easily accessible location. Consider investing in a portable generator, sump pump, or other flood protection equipment.

Home Preparation

Preparing your home for a flood can help minimize damage and keep your family safe. Install flood barriers, such as sandbags or flood shields, around doors and windows. Elevate appliances and furniture to prevent water damage. Seal cracks in the foundation and walls to prevent water from seeping in. Make sure to also clear gutters and downspouts of debris to prevent water from backing up and causing damage.

Insurance and Important Documents

Make sure your insurance policies are up-to-date and provide adequate coverage for flood damage. Keep important documents, such as passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies, in a waterproof container or store them electronically in a secure location. Consider taking photos or videos of your belongings to document any damage in the event of a flood.

Flood Survival: What to do During a Flood

During a flood, your safety should be your first priority. Here are some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe:

  • Stay informed about the flood situation in your area by listening to local news and emergency alerts.
  • Avoid walking or driving through floodwater. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and 2 feet of water can sweep away a car.
  • If you must walk through floodwater, use a stick to check the ground in front of you and make sure it is solid.
  • If you are trapped in a building, go to the highest level and wait for rescue. Do not climb into a closed attic, as you may become trapped by rising floodwater.
  • If you are caught in fast-moving water, try to float on your back with your feet pointing downstream. Avoid obstacles and try to reach the shore.

If you are instructed to evacuate, do so immediately. Follow these guidelines:

  • Bring your emergency kit with you, including any important documents, medications, and supplies.
  • Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if instructed to do so.
  • If you have time, move essential items to an upper floor or higher ground.
  • Follow the designated evacuation routes and avoid shortcuts, as they may be blocked or dangerous.
  • If you are driving, do not attempt to drive through floodwater. Turn around and find an alternate route.

Flood Recovery: What to do After the Flood

Once the flood has subsided, it’s important to take the following steps:

  • Do not return to your home until authorities have declared it safe to do so.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and boots, when cleaning up after a flood.
  • Throw away any food, water, or medication that may have been contaminated by floodwater.
  • Document any damage to your property and belongings for insurance purposes.
  • Take steps to prevent mold growth by drying out your home and removing any wet materials as soon as possible.

More Information

For more information about flood preparedness, please visit the following links:

Dam Easy: Flood Safety Checklist
Prevention Web: Manual on Flood Preparedness Program 
CTI Engineering International Co. Ltd.: Flood Preparedness
Harris Country Flood Control District: Family Flood Preparedness Plan
American Red Cross: Flood Safety Checklist
OSHA: Flood Preparedness and Response

Image: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

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