Hope Floats in Rising Waters: Flood Survival Strategies for Homeowners

Hope Floats in Rising Waters: Flood Survival Strategies for Homeowners
  • Opening Intro -

    There's nothing more disheartening than watching the water on the riverbank rise higher and higher.

    And, if you live near a flood zone, you know.

    Here's how to survive a rising tide, which may raise all boats, but will definitely sink your house.


Before The Flooding Begins

When you know that a heavy rain is about to hit, there are some things you can do to prepare. Know your property’s flood zone risk and evaluate your personal risk for a flood. The Insurance Institute For Business And Home Safety publishes a guide on how to deal with this.

You should also have your furnace and water heater, along with other permanent equipment, moved to above the expected flood levels in your area. Inspect your sump pumps — these will be what saves you during a flood because they pump out excess water from your basement.

If you own a generator, have a licensed electrician give you a transfer switch to your sump pump. This way, you can operate it when it floods. Most sump pumps run on electricity, so this is important because, during a flood, the power may temporarily go out, making your pump otherwise useless.

Preventing Backups

If you want to prevent sewage from backing up, here’s what you do: have a licenced plumber install an interior or exterior backflow prevention valve. These valves will close if sewage tries to back up into your pipes, which will prevent a nasty mess. Keep sandbags on hand to help you divert any unusually high water that tries to infiltrate your foundation. You will have to pile the sandbags up around your house, and make sure that no water is sitting next to the foundation.

If you live in a snowy climate, then flag drains to avoid plowing snow on tops of them during a snow removal process. Make sure you understand the flood alert signals in your community.

Collect emergency building materials if you live in an area that constantly floods. Keep them in a clean and dry place. Also, keep things like plastic sheeting, nails, shovels, and sandbags handy. Building materials might include things like lumber and drywall.

Review a safety and exit plan with your family. And, make sure that every family member knows how to shut off the utilities in an emergency situation. Plan a survival kit and pack it with things like a first aid kit, blankets, flashlights, and flares, along with a Faraday-style radio.

Creating Anti Flood Defences:

During The Flood

When you’re in the middle of a flood scenario, keep calm. Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for storm information and to keep up on the weather. If you’re advised to evacuate, shut off your utilities and get out of there immediately. Move to higher ground, and avoid rising waters. Do not walk or drive through any areas that are flooded. You will not know whether the water is electrified by downed or damaged power lines. Also, stay away from downed power lines.

When The Flood Is Over

Listen to the radio and don’t go home until the authorities have told you that it’s safe. You may need to bring in specialists, like RestorationEze. Once you’re allowed back into your home, you may inspect it for damage. If your property has been damaged, then you can contact your insurer to file a claim. However, unless you’ve purchased flood insurance, you won’t be able to be paid for any of the damages you suffer.

A homeowner’s policy does not cover flooding. You need to purchase special flood insurance as a separate policy or a rider to your existing policy.

When you do get home, watch out for things like snakes, which may have made their way into your house. Throw away all of the food that’s come into contact with floodwaters. In fact, it may be a good idea to just throw away all food because you can’t know whether it’s been contaminated once you leave your house.

Remove standing water quickly, including your basement. If your basement happens to be flooded, then you should pump out about 1/3rd of the water per day to avoid structural damage. You will also need to properly dry or remove any soaked carpets, padding, upholstery, and anything else that’s prone to water damage within 24-48 hours after the flood hits. This is necessary to prevent mold growth.

Wash and disinfect all areas that have become flooded, including flooring, closets, walls, and any equipment or appliances, shelves, HVAC and ductwork, and outside air conditioning systems. Do not energize electrical equipment or appliances until you’ve had them professionally inspected.

Matt Buchanan is the Outreach Director for RestorationEze.com, where he helps home and business owners recover after water or fire damage emergencies. When not blogging about the restoration industry, Matt enjoys spending time in the Rocky Mountains with his wife, daughter and two dogs.

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