As winter slowly creeps away and the air begins to warm, snow melting in higher elevations begins to make its way down to lower, flatter land. When the ground becomes even more saturated from spring rains, the water has nowhere to go and flooding occurs. Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters in Idaho and you should be prepared. Your home is three time more likely to be damaged by a flood than by a fire. It only takes a few inches of water to damage your home and your belongings.
While we can’t always prevent Mother Nature’s effects, and we don’t always have a lot of time to react to weather emergencies, following these guidelines can be helpful in minimizing flood damage and keeping your family and property safe.
Before the threat of flood… be prepared:
- Know Your Risk
According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), one-third of flood damage occurs outside of designated floodplains.
- Have a Communication Plan
Should your family be separated during a flood or flash flood, have a plan to meet up at a designated location, and/or a way to communicate with each other. Arrange with a relative or friend (out of the area) to serve as a designated contact person. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
- Have an Emergency Kit
It is good practice to have enough food, water and medicine on hand at all times to last you at least three days in the case of an emergency.Remember: running water may be unavailable or unsafe to drink and food requiring little cooking and no refrigeration may be needed if electric power is interrupted.In addition to drinking water and non-perishable foods, your kit should have at least these basics:
- first aid kit
- rubber boots & rubber gloves
- NOAA Weather Radio or other battery operated radio easily available
- Prepare Your Home
If you have access to sandbags or other materials, use them to protect your home from flood waters if you have sufficient time to do so.Have a professional install check-valves in plumbing to prevent flood waters from backing up into the drains of your home. Make sure your electric circuit breakers, or fuses, are clearly marked for each area of your home. If you have a sump pump, make sure it is in working order and easily accessible.
- Know Your Coverage
Homeowner’s policies do not cover damage caused by flooding. A separate policy must be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program that offers coverage for both the structure of your home and your personal property. Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period before a new flood policy goes into effect. That’s why it’s especially important that you purchase a flood policy before severe weather rolls in. Find out more about the National Flood Insurance Program. Visit www.FloodSmart.gov or talk to your Farm Bureau Insurance agent. To help evaluate your home’s propensity to suffer flooding, visit Risk Factor.
During a flood:
- Avoid flood waters at all costs and evacuate immediately when water starts to rise. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
- Stay Informed. If indoors, turn on battery-operated radio, television, and/or internet and social media for information and updates.
- Get to Higher Ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding and get to higher ground immediately. Do not be fooled into thinking a house (or other structure) will keep you safe from rising waters, it can become a deadly trap in an instant.
- Obey Evacuation Orders. If instructed to evacuate, do so immediately. Be sure to lock your home as you leave. If you have time, disconnect utilities and appliances. Be sure to have a plan for your family pets also.
- Practice Electrical Safety. Don’t go into a basement, or any room, if water covers the electrical outlets or if cords are submerged. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping or popping noises –get out! Stay out of water that may have electricity in it!
Avoid Flood waters!
- Do not walk through flood waters. As little as six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point and call 911 for help.
- If in a car: Do not drive into flooded roadways or around a barricade; Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Water may be deeper than it appears and can hide many hazards (i.e. sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires, etc).
- If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. A vehicle caught in swiftly moving water can be swept away in a matter of seconds. Twelve inches of water can float a car or small SUV and 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles. Many flood related deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
For more information about flood insurance, coverage options, and the National Flood Insurance Program, visit www.FloodSmart.gov or talk to your Farm Bureau Insurance agent.