Categories > Natural Disasters

Flood Protection for Your Family

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.

How to Survive a Heat Wave

Preparing for the Effects of Extreme Heat

Whether you live in a hot climate prone to heat waves or your car leaves you stranded on an extremely hot day, there are things you can do to lessen the chance of heat exhaustion, heat stroke and a heat related fatalities. Every year in North America, it is estimated that over 500 people die due to the effects of extreme heat, including illnesses like hypothermia. In order to avoid becoming a statistic, make sure you are prepared for it whether in your home or traveling on the road.

IN THE CITY
A heatwave is a period of unusually hot summer weather that lasts more than a couple of days. They are generally worse in cities as the temperature in rural areas tend to lower at night; whereas in cities, temperatures will remain high throughout the evening due to cars, buildings and other typical modern conveniences.

What to Do:
Stay in the coolest place available. (This may not necessarily be indoors if you do not have air conditioning.) If your house temperature exceeds the temperature outside, find a cool place to go. Most public buildings are air conditioned, and if you cannot get there, basements are usually cooler than the upper areas of houses. Try not to be in small enclosed areas with no ventilation and NEVER leave pets or children in cars (even with the windows opened) or in the direct sun for too long.

Try to cool yourself down by using electric fans, water-soaked sheets, hats and bandannas. Soaking your feet in cool water is also an excellent way to cool down. If there is also a drought-warning in effect, try to keep your use of water to a minimum and be sure to make use of fans and opening the windows at night, when the temperature is cooler. Using mentholated products on the skin, or aloe vera cooling gel can also help to make your body feel cooler.

Be sure to hydrate yourself by drinking water and low-sugar juices. Do not drink caffeinated beverages or alcohol as these will deplete your body’s water supply. If you have pets, you will need to remember to hydrate them on a regular basis as well.

If you have to be outside to work or for any other reason, be sure to wear long, light (colored and textured) and loose clothing. Hats and sunscreen are also necessities. Try not to do any strenuous activities during times of extreme heat if possible, especially in the direct sunlight.

Because high-energy appliances and incandescent lights can zap energy and heat up the house when turned on, try to have them turned off during the day. Use your microwave to cook and be sure to eat small meals that are lower in protein and fat. Spicy food really does help cool the body down so have small meals with a little kick if you can handle it.

Because heat waves can cause rolling blackouts, it is advisable to keep an emergency survival kit in your home or at the very least a self-powered radio, flashlight, and fresh water, just to be safe.

STRANDED IN THE HEAT
If you are going on a road-trip during a period of extreme heat, or simply in the summer, in a less frequently traveled location can prove to be a harrowing experience if your vehicle breaks down and you become stranded.

What to Do:
Always carry an emergency kit in your car or at the very least, be sure to bring water with you when traveling by car. These kits should generally include: water, granola bars, blankets, flares, self-powered source of light (lightsticks, flashlight), matches, and a first-aid kit.

You should try to do anything you can to be seen. Vehicles are big and therefore easier to see, so try to stay near yours  if possible (they are also useful for shelter). Signals of any sort are a great way to be seen as well. For daylight hours – smoky fires, mirrors (or any reflective surface or device), and an S.O.S. printed in big letters on the ground are useful; flares and bright fires work the best during the evening.

Keep your clothing on during the day but loosen any tight clothing and be sure to have something covering your head.

Again, be sure to hydrate yourself. You should drink once per hour, moisten your lips and try to breathe through your nose as well. If you are stranded for a longer period of time, good sources of water can be dry stream beds (dig down a few feet) or the base of cliffs.

Keeping your cool during a period of extreme heat is not the easiest thing to do, but if you follow these helpful tips and take a few precautions, you may save yourself from a potentially deadly situation.

Natural Disaster Preparation

What You Need to Know to Prepare for Natural Disasters

(ARA) – When most people think of disaster striking their homes, they think of the things they would lose.

“The most important question is: ‘What should we save,'” says Lyman Munson, head of risk services at Fireman’s Fund Insurance. “There’s an easy answer to that query: When disaster strikes, family comes first.”

Whether it’s a wildfire, hurricane, tornado, flood or another natural disaster altogether, your family should know what to do when in danger. Follow this list of simple disaster preparedness tips that will help your family stay safe.

Evacuation plan: Your family should have a practiced, effective evacuation plan agreed upon beforehand so that you’re ready to go when the unexpected hits. Make sure each room in your home has at least two exits and that each member of your household is clear on the easiest way to evacuate your home. If you have a multi-level home, be sure to have an escape plan from upper stories. It is recommended to keep a collapsible fire ladder next to your upper-level windows for easy exit through the window.

Make a list: With your family members, make a list of important things that you would want to take with you in case of an evacuation. This list could include things like medicine, eyeglasses and important documents. Keep these things in a safe, easy-to-reach place.

Emergency supply kit: Put together a kit of basic survival supplies to provide for your family in case of evacuation or isolation. In addition to basic survival supplies, be sure to include some items to cheer up your family like books, candy or toys.

Keep a home inventory: Pick up a video recorder or a digital camera and walk around each room of your house documenting your belongings. This is an important and time-saving step and will be useful if filing insurance claims after a disaster. Store your documentation on a password protected site online where you can access it away from your home. The Insurance Information Institute also makes www.knowyourstuff.org available free of charge.

Keep your insurance information handy: Store information about your insurance policy and insurance agent in your mobile phone or online (or both) so that you will be able to access it from outside your home. This information, along with a detailed home inventory will be important when dealing with the after effects and losses of a natural disaster.

Here are some ideas for preparing your family for specific natural disasters that affect different parts of the country:

  • Hurricanes

Protecting all your windows and doors is the No. 1 way you can protect your home from hurricane damage. Make sure your windows and doors have proper approvals for large-missile impact and wind pressure. Keeping your roof in good condition is an important way to protect yourself from leaks and other forms of damage. Edge shingles should be well fastened and should not extend beyond the drip edge more than 1/4 inch. Secure old, brittle or loose shingles with three 1 inch dabs of roofing cement under each tab.

  • Wildfires

Zoned, fire-resistant landscaping can help reduce your risk of wildfire. Check with your local fire department or nursery for a list of fire-resistant plants to grow in your yard. Choose heat-resistant such as cement, plaster, stucco or concrete masonry for the walls of your home. Flame-resistant walls will help contain fires and decrease the probability that a fire will spread to the rest of the house.

  • Tornadoes

If you are replacing your existing windows, install impact-resistant window systems, which have a much better chance of surviving a major windstorm. If you are unable to find them locally, you can order them from manufacturers or home improvement stores in coastal areas. Make sure you have sturdy hinges and a deadbolt security lock with a bolt 1 inch long on your doors. Door frames should be anchored securely to wall framing.

  • Earthquakes

Install latches on cupboard doors to ensure they don’t open during a quake. Do not put heavy artwork, mirrors or shelves over beds. Store heavy items or glassware in lower cabinets so they do not become dangerous during a quake.

  • Floods

Place your valuables above the floor level of your home. Avoid stacking your boxes on the floor level in case boxes become damaged and collapse. Use landscaping, site grading and the location of drains and sewers to control and contain the direction and flow of excess water in case of a flood. Install sump pumps with a back-up generator (in case of electricity failure) to quickly remove water from your home.

Courtesy of ARAcontent