Preparing for a Flood and the Aftermath
If flood waters are coming, and you have some time to prepare, use the list below to help minimize the risk to your home and family.
General Flood Precautions
- A working radio with spare batteries. (A radio is an indispensable tool for keeping in the loop about what is going on. Most local radio stations will provide updates and instructions up to and during the flood.)
- Prepare a 72 hour emergency kit that includes food, water, and medical supplies. (It should be in an easy to carry container.)
Some of the supplies that you will want to include will be: flashlight with spare batteries; warm clothing (waterproof outerwear is recommended); blankets; necessary medication; infant care items like diapers, diaper cream, medications, and wipes. (You may also want to put a toy or two in the kit to help keep them occupied.); personal toiletries (makeup, toothbrush, toothpaste; identification (passport, drivers license, family documents)
- If possible, move furniture, appliances and personal belongings above ground level (i.e. second story)
- IMPORTANT: Move chemicals (pesticides, house-hold cleaners) away from the immediate area to minimize pollution
- Remove toilet bowls, and plug basement sewer drains / connections with a plug (use whatever you have to)
- If possible, protect your home with sandbags (usually provided by your local government office)
Flood Evacuation Tips
Time to leave your home? Here are some things to consider before you “get out of Dodge”.
- Vacate your home when you are advised by local emergency authorities. We have all seen movies where someone is stranded and the rescue crews have to risk their lives to come back to save them. That happens in real life too, so don’t ignore the warnings.
- When you leave, take your 72 hour emergency kit with you and other important survival gear .
- Follow the designated routes closely. These are usually clearly marked and they are there for a reason. Ignoring them may lead you to a blocked off area or dangerous zone.
- If you can, leave a note for others when you left and where you went.
- If you are vacating in your car, try not to drive through flood waters. Currents can sweep your car away. However, if you are caught in fast-rising waters and your car stalls, get out and leave it behind.
After the Flood: Cleaning up
Flood-water damage restoration can be a huge job – you may think it is impossible when first surveying the damage. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are cleaning up after a flood.
CAUTION! Avoid electrical shock by wearing rubber boots when you are standing in more than 5cm (2 inches) of water.
- Post-Flood Electricity Precautions: Keep extension cords out of water. If the power is on in the flooded area, shut it off immediately at the breaker switch. If the conditions are wet around the breaker box, make sure you stand on a dry box or board, and use a dry stick to turn off the switch.
- Checking Your Building: Check your building structure. Look for buckled walls or floors. Watch for holes in the floor, broken glass or other dangerous debris.
- Making Your Drinking Water Safe: Flood water can be heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants. Standing water poses a serious health concern. If you suspect you drinking water has been contaminated (through sight or smell), purify it by either boiling it for 10 minutes or by using purification tablets. If you use a non-perfumed bleach compound, only put in one drop per litre of water, or three drops per litre of cloudy water (1 gallon = 3.78 litres). Let chlorinated (bleached) water stand for at least 30 minutes before drinking.
- Cleaning Supplies: gloves, masks and other protective gear; pails, mops, and plastic garbage bags ( you can’t have too many of those); chlorine bleach and NON-ammonia dishwashing detergent (NEVER mix ammonia with bleach, as the two produce toxic fumes when combined); large containers (rubber-maid) for soaking bedding, clothing. You will also need some rope to hang dry them.); extension cords, submersible pumps, wet/dry shop vacuums; carbon monoxide detector; fans and heaters
TIP: Store all your wet, valuable paper (wills etc…) in the freezer until they are needed.
Take photos or video of the flood damage BEFORE you start to clean up. Register the damage with both your insurance agent and the local government office immediately.