Statement issued by the Institute for Business & Home Safety:
Floods happen -- beside rivers, on the coast, in deserts, along city streets and behind protective levees. But you can take steps before the flood to protect your home and family from disaster. Some things can and should be done immediately. Others require a licensed professional. However, each change you make will increase the resistance of your home or business to flood damage.
When there is risk of flood:
- Clear drains, gutters and downspouts of debris and make sure your yard’s grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
- Roll up area rugs and carpeting, where possible, and store these on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.
- Move furniture and electronics off the floor, particularly in basements and first floor levels.
- Anchor fuel tanks. An unanchored tank can be torn free by floodwaters, and the broken supply line can cause contamination, or if outdoors, can be swept downstream and damage other homes.
- Prepare an evacuation kit with important papers, insurance documents, medications and other things you or your family may need if you are forced to be away from home for several days.
- Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replace the batteries.
- Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.
- Raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12” above the projected flood elevation.
- Place all appliances, including furnace, water heater, washer and dryer on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12” above the projected flood elevation.
- If flood waters enter the sewer system, sewage can back up and enter your home. To prevent this, install an interior or exterior backflow valve. Check with your building department for permit requirements.
- After the flood:
- As soon as it is safe to do so, disconnect all electronics/electrical equipment and move it to a dry location.
- Remove as much standing water as possible from inside the building.
- Begin to remove water-damaged materials immediately.
- Ventilate with fans and/or dehumidifiers.
- Acting quickly can increase the chance of salvaging usable materials, reduce the amount of rust, rot and mold that might develop, and limit the likelihood of structural problems.
Most property insurance policies do not cover damage caused by floods. The federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program to provide this coverage to property owners. Contact your local insurance agent or company to discuss your coverage needs. Remember, there is typically a 30-day waiting period when purchasing a new policy.
You can also purchase flood insurance directly from the NFIP. To learn more about flooding, community participation in the federal program and what coverage is needed in your area, visit www.FloodSmart.gov