Flood Survival Tips: Knowing the Facts

Flood Survival Tips:  Knowing the Facts

A flood is a large overflow of water beyond its normal confines that covers normally dry areas.  Flooding occurs in every state in the U.S. and in every region of Canada.  According to the National Weather Service, the average loss of life to flooding is 89 individuals a year and an astounding $8.2 Billion in damages.  Steps can be taken now to lessen the danger and damage posed by flooding.  The following is an introductory guide, resource directory and survival tips to assist the reader in being ready.

Survival Tips for Before Flooding Occurs

Some things one can do before a flood are:

  • Prepare you home before hand.
    • Modifications to the home can be done to reduce the damage caused by flooding.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publishes a free guide entitled Protecting Your Home And Property From Flood Damage that will help a homeowner make decisions on how best to avoid property damage and personal risk posed by flooding.  Some state level agencies also publish similar guides.
    • Avoid building new homes in floodplains.  If the building is situated in a floodplain, it must be elevated and reinforced.
    • Construct barriers (e.g., beams, floodwalls, etc.) to stop waters from entering your home.
    • Research and know the areas prone to flooding in your area.
    • Seal basement walls with waterproofing material.
    • Make sure gutters and drains are always clear.
    • Be sure to elevate electrical panels, switches, sockets, furnaces, fuel tanks, etc. if the area is susceptible to flooding.
    • Note that flood losses are not normally covered under homeowner’s insurance polices, so have proper flood insurance for your home or business.  Flood insurance is available from most local insurance agents.
  • Educate yourself on the dangers and how to avoid them.
  • Have the necessary items ready before hand.  These include:
    • An emergency kit for your home.
    • A 72-hour bag (colloquially known as a “bug out bag”) and related items for your vehicle.
    • If forced to evacuate, take important documents with you.

Survival Tips for During a Flooding Event

There are steps that can be taken shortly before and during a flooding event that will greatly reduce the risk to life and reduce damage to a home.

  • Listen to radio, television, or Internet news reports for information of weather that could result in flooding.
  • In the event of the warning of flash flooding, evacuate the area immediately and head for high ground.  Flash floods can develop and occur very rapidly, so waste no time.
  • Should you be instructed to do so by emergency officials, turn off main utilities and valves.
  • Do not attempt to operate or even touch electrical equipment that is in standing water.
  • Avoid any contact with flood water.  The water may be contaminated with raw sewage, petrochemicals (e.g., oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, etc.), and harmful microbes.
    • Be mindful of children as they may attempt to play in flood waters.
  • Do not walk through moving water.  As little as six inches of moving water can make a person fall.  Two feet of rushing water can move a vehicle such as a car or light truck.
  • If a mandatory evacuation order is issued and it is safe to go, do so without delay.

Survival Tips for Floods

Survival Tips for After a Flooding Event

After a flood has occurred, there are important steps to take in recovery in addition to the steps outlined in the previous section.

  • Only return home or to your place of business when authorities have stated it is safe to do so.
  • If the power is still out, only use flashlights when entering your home or business as flammable material may be present.
  • Continue to monitor the radio and other media sources for updates.
  • Stay out of any structures still surrounded by flood waters.
  • Note that damaged sewage and septic systems are very dangerous to human life.  They should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • Stay clear of downed power lines and report any to the electrical company or cooperative.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect any article that came in contact with flood water.  Discard articles that cannot be properly cleaned.
  • Do not consume any food, beverage, or tobacco product that came in contact with flood waters as they are likely contaminated.
    • If absolutely necessary, drinking water may be made safe by boiling and filtering.

While floods are a daunting challenge, with the right preparations and know how, one can protect their life and property.  If the reader would like to discuss floods, survival tips or any other disaster, consider joining the free Disaster.com forum.  Sign up is quick and easy.

Sources

  1. Are you ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (pp. 55-57). (2002). Washington, D.C.: FEMA.
  2. Public Safety Canada: Floods. (2014, March 4). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/mrgnc-mngmnt/ntrl-hzrds/fld-eng.aspx
  3. Protecting Your Home and Property from Flood Damage: Mitigation Ideas for Reducing Flood Loss. (2010). United States: U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  4. NOAA’s National Weather Service. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.nws.noaa.gov/hic/
  5. Flood Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood
  6. Civil Defense Basics—Natural Disasters. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.tacda.org/docs/TACDA_Academy_CDBasics_7Natural.pdf
  7. 6 Ways To Protect Your Home From Flooding | Bankrate.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2015, from http://www.bankrate.com/finance/weather/natural-disasters/6-ways-protect-home-flooding.aspx
  8. The National Flood Insurance Program | FEMA.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2015, from https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
  9. Missouri State Emergency Management Agency. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2015, from http://sema.dps.mo.gov/plan_and_prepare/flooding.asp
  10. Floods. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2015, from http://www.floridadisaster.org/EMTOOLS/Severe/floods.htm
  11. My Hazards Awareness Map. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2015, from http://myhazards.calema.ca.gov/

Zachariah Amela

Zachariah is a writer with Disaster.com and is an Information Technology professional. He has worked with and contributed to disaster relief organizations and has a strong interest in emergency management, wireless communications, Civil Defense, and family preparedness. He lives in the Pacific Northwest and is married with children. When not working or writing, he enjoys time with the family, hiking, trap/skeet shooting, and reading.

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Discussion
  1. That is an awesome article. I really liked it.

    There are so many things that a person can do to a home that is currently built or being built. One is to make certain that all windows and doors have air tight seals when shut and that you replace those seals every few years. The seals alone can ensure that you have little or no water come into your home during a some types of flood.

    Did you know that some homes can actually be lifted and placed higher off the ground???? I did not know about it until recently. I have seen where they took a crane and lifted an entire home... then put down bricks and such and put the home on top of it. The home was a 3 bedroom house. Shocked me. But this can only be done on certain homes. I think only on newer ones because older ones could fall apart from the tension.
    Informative article and easy to understand. I live in a flood risk area so I've retweeted. I'd like to add an important tip if I may - make sure your insurance covers you for this type of event and ensure it is paid up to date. Seems obvious, I know, but one friend of mine didn't do this during a flood we experienced in 2007 and she's still paying off the restoration work now.
    We experienced flash floods 3 years back in the Philippines when i still live there. The flash came in instantly giving us not time to prepare our needs. our house was filled with water reaching the second level of our house. We out our blankets on cellophane and we out it on the rooftop. We brought whistles because it is the most helpful instrument that time. We whistled and this alerted every rescuer to know where we are. This lead us to be rescued by rescuers. After like 2 weeks, we went back home seeing the destruction on our house. This article would really helps us in preparing and for better actions during flash floods. I can relate most of the basic instructions especially that i was once a victim of flash flood!
    Yep mae_mae is right. The Philippines is prone to floods and there are a lot of damages done in the past few years. I was not able to physically witness what it does and how it affects me physically, mentally, emotionally but I had seen in the eyes of those who tried it. Food is lacking after such floods and disasters. The apps are really useful, I should look into it.
    Good concise article about floods and flood preparation. My region tends to flood with normal rain amounts, as well as being in a hurricane storm surge area, so I pay attention to disaster information, probably more than many others. I think the flooding during Hurricane Katrina was a wake up call for many of us. I will share, in the hope that others will read and learn how to prepare ahead of time, and protect themselves, if ever placed in a flood situation.
    Here in Florida, there is water everywhere. The ocean, rivers, swamps, and lakes are all over the state. It tends to rain a lot as well and we're taught to never drive through a flooded street or wade in any water after a storm. Always remember to turn around and don't drown.
    Extreme flooding is something I experience annually in my area. This article reminded me of my worst experiences during rain monsoon season in my country. I remember the incident of a man who died of electrocution while he is just trying to cross the street. So I agree that flooded electric lines should be avoided because it is an instant kill. Since this article said about the importance of radio and batteries during floods, I can suggest the use of rechargeable batteries. Some of them can actually be charged through sun light.
    Very good article here. A lot of points were made and are very relative. Here in Florida we get a lot of rain, which causes sink holes and flash floods. The best advice is to turn around and don't drown. Never drive through a flooded street.
    Guest
    A few things I would add are that in addition to chemicals in the water, there could also be other dangers, such as snakes, gators (depending, of course, upon where you are), and floating fire ants. Also, be very careful when driving in times of heavy rain, especially at night. It\'s not always easy to gauge how deep an area is, especially if you\'re not familiar with it. I drove somewhere recently, and had just driven through there about 35 minutes before, and never really noticed that the road dipped slightly in that portion of road. On my second pass, I was shocked to see how deep the standing water was. One thing to keep in mind when you or your neighbors do home remodeling, is whether and how it could affect water flow. I\'ve heard of people fortifying their properties, and as a result, neighbors who have never had issues in the past, suddenly become flooded after major rainfalls.
    I have encountered so many floods in my life. There was a time when floodwaters were knee-high inside our living room for 2 days. All we could do was stay on the second floor. It was okay except that our toilet wouldn't work because of the flood. For food, we have stocks all the time although mostly canned goods like corned beef and sardines. Since bread cannot be stored for long, what we have were biscuits.
    mae_mae
    We experienced flash floods 3 years back in the Philippines when i still live there. The flash came in instantly giving us not time to prepare our needs. our house was filled with water reaching the second level of our house. We out our blankets on cellophane and we out it on the rooftop. We brought whistles because it is the most helpful instrument that time. We whistled and this alerted every rescuer to know where we are. This lead us to be rescued by rescuers. After like 2 weeks, we went back home seeing the destruction on our house. This article would really helps us in preparing and for better actions during flash floods. I can relate most of the basic instructions especially that i was once a victim of flash flood!


    If you were here in 2009, that typhoon Ondoy was worse than that. In a matter of 1 hour, floodwaters reached neck-deep high. Most people living in low lying areas were surprised that Saturday morning. Even animals died like dogs cats and chicken. Until now, I still cannot understand how the floodwaters got that high in minutes and without warning. The only logical explanation in my mind is a combination of heavy rains and clogged waterways.
    Don't build or move into areas of low lying land. Never drive through a street full of water, there could be a hole underneath. I've lived through 3 floods here in Florida and it's no joke. Turn around, don't drown.
    Staying alert with flood warning systems and paying heed to local authorities' advice is the best thing to do. Local administration issues a directive in case of emergencies and evacuating your houses to safer areas is the prudent thing in most cases. There advance warning systems in place which can make precise forecasts and hence escaping a flood should not be a major issue, even though property loss is still a reality.
    mairj23
    Don't build or move into areas of low lying land. Never drive through a street full of water, there could be a hole underneath. I've lived through 3 floods here in Florida and it's no joke. Turn around, don't drown.


    We were renting a house in a low lying area before we moved in to this present house which we purchased thru a bank loan. We perfectly knew that this is also a low lying area although our street is seldom flooded. Your advice is good but beggars cannot be choosers. This is the only property that we can afford to buy so we are already resigned to this low lying areas. In fairness to us, there are years that there is no flood. In our 14 years of stay, perhaps it's onlyl 5 years that we had experienced flooding and just once that floodwater entered our house.
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