It’s not every day your home has a foot of water running through it. But, this unlikely event is the least of your problems if there’s a flood warning in your area.
The presence of water in your home is not the biggest concern you should have during a flood; it’s inevitable even if you have sandbags and plastic liners set up. Instead of focusing on keeping water out, you need to think about your safety and preserving the valuables in your home.
Here’s a complete list of what to do in case of a flood to help you manage such a stressful situation.
1. Disconnect All Appliances
First things first, get to all the appliances you can reach safely and disconnect their outlets. Prioritize large appliances like your washer/dryer and refrigerator, then focus on things like your microwave and coffee machine.
Once these are unplugged, disconnect every other chord in your home from their outlets. Start in the lowest-level rooms and work your way up.
If your home already has water in it, be extra careful. The whole point of disconnecting appliances is to prevent electrocution once the power comes back on. You don’t want to hurt yourself by messing with chords that are already wet.
2. Turn Off Your Power, Water, and Gas
Disconnecting all the appliances in your home does increase your safety during a flood. But, it’s best to turn off your power, water, and gas lines for good measure.
Turning off your power line keeps the breaker in good condition once it’s time to turn everything back on. If you leave it as-is, it can be seriously damaged by all the water.
Turning off your water at the main line keeps your pipes from bursting. It’s bad enough to return to your home and see that it’s been flooded by a few inches – or even a foot or two – of water. You don’t want to add to the repairs you have to do by coming home to a mix of flood water and bursted pipes.
Closing your water line also reduces the amount of backwater you get in your home. If you leave the pipes open, you’re basically asking for all the waste and dirt in your local sewage pipes to rise up into your home.
Turning off the gas line is an absolute must. This prevents further contamination of flood water and offsets any additional damage to your home and belongings. Not to mention, open gas lines can cause explosions or even fires.
3. Turn On Your Emergency Radio
While you’re going all over the house to disconnect chords and turn off lines, make sure you turn on your emergency radio. This is going to be your main source of information during the natural disaster. It’s more reliable than a smartphone and it will give you all the details you need to determine your next steps.
Some emergency radios also allow you to contact others. This means you’ll be able to check in on your neighbors and loved ones, and also call for any emergency help you may need.
4. Avoid Open Drains
Although turning your water service off helps, it can’t fully prevent backwater from coming up unless you have backflow valves installed. As such, it’s in your best interest to stay away from open drains in the kitchen and bathrooms.
There’s no telling what’s going to get pushed up from sewage. But, it’s definitely not anything good. The further you are from open drains, the safer you and your family will be.
5. Move Valuables to Safe Areas
If there still isn’t any water in your home, get to work moving your valuables to higher ground. Utilize your upstairs space if you have it, or at least put some valuables in the attic if you live in a single-story home.
Prioritize what you’re putting away. Personal documents like legal papers, medical records, and passports are more important than objects such as jewelry and furniture. You should focus on sentimental things like family photos, memoirs, and cherished possessions, though.
6. Get to Higher Ground
As you’re moving your valuables to a safer part of the house, set aside the things you plan to take with you. Grab your personal documents, any medications you may need, and a light change of clothes.
You don’t want to be hauling around a bunch of stuff as you and your family evacuate, but you do need to make sure you have your essentials. Once everything is gathered, communicate your evacuation plan with your family and get moving.
7. Call Your Flood Insurance Company
After the flood has passed and the water has started to drain away, go home and assess the damage. Wait for the “okay” from your local government and electric/water companies to turn your lines of service back on.
Start going through the house to clean and re-organize things the way they’re meant to be. But, take pictures of each room as you do so. These will support your flood insurance claims and help move the process along to get you your compensation.
You do have the option of opening a claim before gathering your evidence. Just keep in mind that your compensation won’t come through until the insurance company has everything they need to assess your situation.
If you don’t have flood insurance yet or you’d like to figure out how to cut this cost, click here.
What to Do in Case of a Flood Warning
It’s one thing to know what to do in case of a flood that’s already affecting your area, and another to know how to handle a flood warning. Too many homeowners waste time whether to stay in place or to evacuate when a warning is issued. Then, they’re scrambling to get out once the flood actually hits.
Don’t be like them. Whenever a warning is issued, get to work handling all the tasks mentioned above.
If a natural emergency causes you to have a bit of a financial emergency, use these tips to get back on your feet.