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Flood Preparedness Tips and Safety Information

Hurricane Harvey TX

Floods are the most destructive and deadly natural disasters.  They can happen anywhere at any time and immediately put your property and your life at risk.  Those in the Houston, TX area know all too well the type of extensive damage that flooding can cause and the long-term effects it can have on entire communities.

Severe flooding can cause major damage to homes and businesses.  If your home is affected by flooding, it can damage your personal items and result in expensive restoration and structural repairs.  Flooding can also shut down a business and many businesses never open again after experiencing catastrophic flooding.  The best way to protect your home or business from the effects of flooding is to be prepared and know what to do before, during, and after a flood occurs.  The following tips will help you prepare for and react to a flood so you can protect your property and keep yourself and your family safe.

Types of Floods

Hurricane Harvey Houston floodingIn order to better protect your property from flooding you should understand the different types of floods:

  • Flash floods: Flash floods are very dangerous because they happen quickly, and the fast-moving water can wash away cars and people. This type of flooding happens much quicker and is also much worse than anticipated.
  • Debris flow: This is when the flood water contains sediment such as mud and other debris. The force of the debris can cause very serious damage and the affected areas are often left covered in mud and debris.
  • Levees: Levees are man-made structures built to contain waterways, but they are not invincible. The presence of levees means that there has been development on a floodplain, so the entire area is at risk of flooding if the levee breaks.
  • Coastal flooding: This type of flooding occurs when large ocean waves push water onto land. This can be caused by seafloor movements and severe storms like hurricanes.
  • Indoor flooding: This is the type of flooding that happens within a home or building due to an internal issue. Plumbing leaks and burst pipes are common causes of indoor flooding.

Before a Flood

Effective preparation is your best defense against flooding.  Make sure you follow these tips to protect your home before a flood occurs:

  • Get flood insurance: Typical insurance policies for homes and commercial buildings do not cover damage caused by flooding. You should consider getting flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), especially if you live in a flood prone area.
  • Form an evacuation plan: If the flooding is severe, you may be forced to evacuate your property. Make sure you have a plan in place that includes where to go and what you need to bring with you so you can leave as quickly as possible in an emergency.  It also helps to practice the evacuation plan with your family.
  • Prepare an emergency “go kit”: If you are forced to evacuate, you will have very little time to gather supplies. Having an emergency kit ready to go that includes clothing, food, water, a first aid kit, and your phone and charger will save you time and help you evacuate faster.
  • Prepare an emergency “stay kit”: In some situations, you may be safer to remain in your home than to try and evacuate. For these situations, you should have an emergency “stay kit” prepared on the top level of your home.  This kit should include emergency contact information, a three-day supply of ready to eat food and water, and a first aid kit.
  • Pay attention to flood warnings: If there is a flood watch for your area, that means that flooding is a possibility and you should be prepared to take action if necessary. If there is a flood warning, that means that flooding is already happening, and you need to start taking action.

During a Flood

The actions you take during a flood are critical as they could mean the difference between life and death.  It is very important to take these actions once the flooding begins:

  • Stay updated: Get the latest updates on the flooding by checking the internet, TV and radio. Listen to the experts and heed their warnings.
  • Prepare your property: Move all valuable objects, electrical equipment, and anything else you can grab to the top level of your home. Put all important documents in a waterproof container and place it somewhere safe.  Be ready to shut off your gas and electricity.
  • If you must evacuate: Grab your emergency kit and make sure all your windows and doors are locked before you leave. For your safety, let a neighbor or family member know your destination.
  • If you must stay: Go to the highest level of your home and have your emergency stay kit ready. Continue to listen to weather updates.

After the Flood

Flood Damage RestorationAfter the flood has ended, you may have a strong desire to return to your home or property.  However, you must return home with caution to ensure that it is safe:

  • Do not enter your home if it is still surrounded by flood water.
  • If you can see structural damage to your home before entering, call a building inspector to insect your home for safety.
  • Watch out for animals that may have entered your home.
  • Leave your home and call a professional right away if you suspect a gas leak.

If your home is safe to enter after the flood, make sure you follow these tips once you enter:

  • Do not use any appliances that were under water until a professional has inspected them and deemed them safe for use.
  • Inspect the ceiling, floors, furniture, and stairs to ensure that they are stable.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that touched the flood water.
  • Document the damage for your insurance claim.

Flood Preparation Tips for Seniors

Senior CoupleIf you have senior loved ones who live alone, you need to make sure that they are adequately prepared for a flood for their safety.  The following tips will help your senior loved ones prepare for a flood:

Before the Flood

It is important to establish a personal support network with seniors before a flood occurs.  This network should include at least three people, close friends and family members, who can check up on them and keep copies of their important documents including Social Security and pension related documents.  You should also form an evacuation plan with them and practice it each year.

During the Flood

  • Create an emergency “go kit” for your loved ones that is near the door so they can grab it when they leave.
  • Seniors who are evacuating alone should consider leaving before the authorities advise an evacuation. This will make the evacuation safer and give you ample time to get somewhere safe before the flooding worsens.
  • Seniors who cannot make it to their pre-determined destination should go for higher ground and immediately call their contacts to let them know where they are.

After the Flood

  • Seniors need to make sure the home is safe before returning. Hiring a professional to inspect the home is the best option.
  • If seniors are temporarily living with friends or family members, they need to call their doctor and have their prescriptions transferred to a nearby pharmacy.

Flood Preparation Tips for Pets

Protect pets When preparing for a flood, you cannot forget to plan for the safety of your pets.  If possible, you should plan to take your p with you when you evacuate.  If you cannot evacuate safely with your pets, then you need to move them to the highest floor of your home and give them enough food and water for at least three days.

Before the Flood

Create an emergency kit for your pet that includes the following:

  • Leashes, harnesses, carriers, and anything you need to transport your pet
  • Food and water for three days and bowls
  • Medication if needed and copies of their medical records

Make sure you consider your pet in your evacuation plan:

  • Look for a shelter along your evacuation route that will accept your pet in a weather emergency.
  • Practice the evacuation plan with your pet.
  • Designate friends and family members who can care for your pet in an emergency.
  • Have your pet microchipped in case they get lost.

During the Flood

Leave with your pets before the authorities advise you to so you have enough time to get your pet somewhere safe.

After the Flood

When the flood is over, make sure you keep your pet near you and evaluate their state of mind.  If they are scared or nervous, make sure you react to them accordingly to calm them down.

Call ServiceMaster for Flood Damage Cleanup

ServiceMaster flood cleanupMajor floods are extremely dangerous, but you can keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe by following the tips outlined above.  The important thing to remember is to put the safety of you and your family first and worry about the damage to your property later.

If you return to your property after a flood and find that it has been damaged, make sure you call our professionals right away for flood and water damage restoration.  Our technicians will arrive to your home quickly to limit the damage and remove the flood water so we can restore your property back to its pre-flood condition.

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