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How to Prepare for a Flood

Flooding is one of the most common hazards in the United States. When moving into an area where flooding tends to occur, taking some time to prepare for a flood can save you much trouble later.

Flood Insurance

It’s important to understand that the homeowner’s insurance policy on your house will not cover you if you experience flood damage. A National Flood Insurance Program (run by FEMA) makes flood insurance available to everyone, even those living in flood prone areas. This insurance is available through local agents, and has a 30-day waiting period before it goes into effect.

Keep Informed

Keeping informed during an emergency can often mean the difference between life and death. An A/C powered radio with NOAA Alert capability is a key piece of equipment to take with you during an evacuation. Understand the differences in the alerts issued by NOAA. A Flood Watch means that the conditions are right for flooding to occur. A Flood Warning means that flooding is occurring. Listen carefully for evacuation instructions. Flash Flood Watches and Warnings are also issued. Because Flash Floods can occur without warning, it’s important to listen to the radio to get up to the minute information.

Emergency Equipment

A flood can hit a wide area and make emergency services unavailable. Emergency medical supplies can save a life by stabilizing an injury until professional help is available. A seventy-two hour supply of food and water can be very important for survival during and after a flood. Ironically, floods can pollute the drinking water supply. You should never drink untreated flood waters. Have a food grade container that you can store drinking water in. Fill your containers if a flood threatens.

Your Valuables

If you are aware that a flood is possible in your area, it can benefit you to create a “safe room” in your home. In this room, which should be on an upper level of your home, you can store valuables that you would not be able to take with you, should you need to evacuate your home. Important documents, family photographs, and other valuables can all be collected and placed in a high, dry place. As simple as it sounds, having an inflatable boat or raft can keep you and key supplies safe until help arrives. As you prepare to evacuate, inflate the raft and place your emergency supplies inside.

Securing Your Home

Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. In the evacuation orders, you may be instructed to turn off the utilities in your home. Do this at the main valves or switches. Operating on the idea that the upper level of your home will be the safest, move your valuables as best you can upstairs. Make sure that you are leaving your home in as secure a manner as possible.


If you need to be rescued from your home, have a way to signal for help. Light sticks are a safe source of light and signaling. Even better are state-of-the-art products like PowerFlare that will operate for a long time, can be seen from great distances, and are waterproof (they float).


Walking through floodwaters can be dangerous, especially if the water is moving. Moving water has the power to knock you down, so be especially careful about choosing your route. Driving in more than a few inches if water is extremely dangerous. The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.

Preparing for a flood can enable you to shelter or escape safely. Don’t underestimate the power of water.