In the United States, floods are the most common natural disaster to cause damage to homes and other buildings. A flash flood, a common severe weather emergency situation, is dangerous and can cause significant damage to anything in its path. Flash floods can move large boulders, rip out trees, destroy bridges and cause rapid flooding in low-lying areas. If your home is near a river, pond or other source of water, it could be susceptible to a flash flood. The experts at ServiceMaster Restore want to help you learn how to prepare for a flash flood and what to do when a flash flood happens.
Preparing for a Flash Flood The first step in preparing for the possibility of a flash flood is knowing if your home is in a flood zone or flood hazard area. Check the Flood Insurance Rate Map or FIRM from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to see if you're living in an area prone to flash floods or other types of flooding. When severe weather threatens or hits, pay close attention to the weather watches and warnings for your area. A Flash Flood Watch means the conditions are ripe for a flash flood to occur, while a Flash Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or already occurring in areas that are considered a flood hazard. If you’re in an area that may be in a flood zone, have a flood disaster plan for your family and know your area's flood evacuation routes. If the authorities issue an evacuation, follow the recommended evacuation plan. Prepare your home for a flash flood by:
- Bringing indoors or securing all outdoor furniture
- Moving important items out the lowest areas of the home to avoid water damage
- Unplugging electrical appliances
- If authorities recommend, turning off the home's main electricity and gas
- Having a flood emergency kit ready
Your flood emergency kit should include a First Aid kit, weather emergency radio, any medications family members or pets may need, bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlight, batteries, multi-purpose tool, duct tape, and important papers including a phone list with numbers for your insurance agent, and family members. A water-proof tote is a perfect container for a flood emergency kit. For additional info, the Red Cross provides a complete list of emergency kit items.
What to do in a Flash Flood Never walk or drive through flood waters. Six inches of water can knock a person down and only two feet of water can sweep away any vehicle during a flash flood. Remember that even shallow flood waters can pose a danger. Flood waters can contain debris and harmful contaminants that lead to injury and serious health risks. Never let children play in a flooded area for any reason. Head for higher ground, which is generally safer. If caught at home, avoid the basement and head to the upper level. Keep your flood emergency kit close at hand as well as a weather-emergency radio and a cell phone. After the flood waters recede and you're able to return home, let the experts at ServiceMaster Restore be there for you to help access any damage caused by the flood waters.