Disasters do not discriminate. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spearheads National Preparedness Month every September, the present is always a good time to make preparations for any natural calamity or emergency. Disasters can occur no matter the month or season, and with Sarasota, Florida having a major risk of flooding for the next 30 years, the key to protecting lives and property lies in learning about safety and prevention. ServiceMaster by Wright has compiled these tips for you.
How should I Prepare for a Flood?
Floods can occur in different ways. Some develop slowly during an extended period of rain or in a warming trend following heavy snow. Others, like flash floods, can happen very quickly without any visible signs of rain. Because of this unpredictability, it’s important to know what to do.
Tip No. 1: Research Your Flood Risk
- Research in advance whether your area is susceptible to flooding. FEMA maintains online flood maps to show the locations and risk levels in specific geographic areas.
- Gather more information by asking your neighbors how the flood was the last time it hit your area. Check if they have pictures or any form of information about the flood’s onslaught to give you more prevention tips in advance.
- Have a Plan B, if Plan A fails. Establish the emergency actions that need to occur in such a situation and assign tasks to each individual family member responsible.
- Train your family members as to what to do during flooding, the meeting place, how to survive high waters, and what to do when evacuating.
Tip No. 3: Get Flood Insurance
- This is a requirement for flood-prone area homeowners, which is available through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Visit Floodsmart.gov to get an estimate of the pricing for flood insurance for your geographic location or address. Remember: regular homeowner’s insurance DOES NOT cover flood damage costs.
Tip No. 4: Construct Barriers
- Build water-resistant barriers, self-sealing air bricks and flood-resistant doors, windows and garages around your property that can help stop floodwaters from entering.
- These resilient barriers are designed to withstand impact by water and debris while simultaneously creating a water-resistant seal on the exterior of your home.
Tip No. 5: Re-Setup the House Electrical Systems
- This may sound expensive, but as a rule of thumb, all parts of the house’s electrical sockets, switches and wiring, including basements, should be elevated at least 12 inches above predicted flood levels.
Tip No. 6: Pre-Arrange the Furniture and Appliances for Flood
- Setting up the arrangement of your furniture and appliances to be flood-ready would protect them from damage.
- By the time a flood occurs, appliances and furniture would be totally safe and you still have time for other important things.
Tip No. 7: Last Minute Preparations
- Closely monitor the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radio for the latest flood updates.
- Be sure to turn off your power and prepare a kit full of emergency supplies just in case.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities if there is a need to evacuate.
What To Do During a Flood
What if you’re dealing with a major flood or it is likely to happen in your area? Here’s what you should do.
Tip No. 1: Move to Higher Ground Immediately
- In the event of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Don’t wait for instructions. Inland flooding that leads to drowning usually occurs during flash-flood conditions.
- Flash floods are those that develop within six hours of a rainstorm but also depend on certain conditions.
Tip No. 2: Avoid Floodwaters
- Do not drink flood water or use it to wash dishes, brush teeth, or wash/prepare food. Drink clean, safe water.
- Standing floodwater can spread infectious diseases, bring chemical hazards and cause injuries.
Tip No. 3: Evacuate if Necessary (As per Officials' Instructions)
- In some instances, you may have a day or two to prepare for evacuation, while other situations might call for immediate evacuation. Just be ready with everything to ensure that you can evacuate quickly and safely, no matter the circumstances.
How to Recover From a Flood
If you are fortunate enough to dealing with minor flooding, you probably don’t have to leave your home. However, if it was a major flood that you have evacuated from and you are shaken to discover the level of damage to your home, there are certain steps that can be taken. What is important is getting things back to normal as quickly as possible.
Tip No. 1: Ensure Your Safety First
- After a major flood, first wait for the ‘all clear’ signal from emergency services before going into an affected area.
- Before entering your property, ask authorities if it is safe to do so. Try to cope with the damage, clean-up and recovery.
Tip No. 2: Contact Your Family
- Stay connected with your family, friends and relatives. Send text messages instead of calls; they can be faster.
Tip No. 3: Stay Updated
- Even though the rain may stop, continue listening to the news while staying alert for extended rainfalls and flooding.
- Continue updating with NOAA until the typhoon is clear.
Tip No. 4: Enter With Caution
- Before entering your home, check for structural damage, hazards such as cracks in the foundation, gas leaks, broken power lines, leaking chemicals and wildlife (snake, spiders, and other animals).
Tip No. 5: Keep Things Dry
- Your next biggest enemy is mold. Molds can grow within 24 to 48 hours of saturation on your furniture, bedding and other high moisture-retaining items.
- Sun-dry and clean these items thoroughly before molds start growing. Open your windows and doors to let air inside to help dry out the interior of your property. For best mold remediation in Sarasota, contact a professional.
Tip No. 6: Remove Standing Water
- Gradually pump out any standing water or scoop up water with a bucket while wearing the right protective gear to prevent exposure to floodwaters. This is best done by a professional.
Tip No. 7: Keep in Touch Early with Insurance
- If you still have time while floodwater starts pouring into your home, you should contact your insurance company immediately and let them know your home has been flooded.
- Take pictures of flood-related damages to your home for evidence when filing an insurance claim.
Tip No. 8: Talk To Your Neighbors
- Advise family members to talk about their experience with friends and neighbors. Sharing is a part of the healing process; even the most resilient person may begin to feel stressed, insecure and even a little frightened.
- It is essential that those affected by a disaster address their emotional needs.
Tip No. 9: Document the Damage
- Always take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for personal, insurance, and recording purposes.
- If you have the equipment, better record a video for better quality.
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