From heavy rain and flash floods to hurricanes and storm surges, flooding is the most common natural disaster in the US. Learn how to prepare for a flood, stay safe during a flood, and protect your health when you return home after a flood.
Before A Flood
- Assess your risk for flooding. Do you live in a flood plain, in a low-lying area, or along the coast? Are there creeks and streams nearby that fill up when it rains? Are there low-lying areas near or around your home’s perimeter?
- If your risks are high, consider getting flood insurance. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage from rising water.
- You may be able to reduce your risks by improving drainage near or around your home. Install drains or dig ditches to help divert water before it has a chance to rise.
- In some cases, sandbags can prevent floodwaters from entering your home. Purchase sandbags if you may need them, and be sure to fill them up ahead of time.
- When the threat of flooding is high, evacuate early. Don’t wait until it’s already flooded. If you have time, shut off the electricity before you go.
- Create your emergency supply kit and keep it in an easily accessible place.
- Keep your emergency supply kit handy so you can grab it and go in case you must evacuate suddenly.
- Don’t underestimate the power of floodwaters. They can move swiftly, often faster than they appear. They are very dangerous. A car will float in only a few inches of swiftly moving water.
- Never allow children to play near floodwaters.
- Adults are also at risk. As little as six inches of moving water can knock an adult off their feet.
- If you become stranded by floodwaters and must escape, wear a life jacket. In some situations, it may be safer to climb onto a rooftop or into a tree and wait for rescue.
- Never drive into flooded roadways. Water can look like it’s only a few inches deep when it’s actually several feet deep. All it takes is one foot of water to make a car or SUV float.
- Moving floodwaters can sweep away your car in a matter of seconds. If you see water on the road, turn around and don’t drown.
After a FloodWait for local emergency management officials to give the all-clear before returning home.When it’s safe to go home, take the following precautions:
- Do not enter your home if the electricity may still be on.
- Beware of displaced wildlife, such as snakes and bats. Do not handle them.
- Wear sturdy shoes, long pants, long sleeves, and gloves when cleaning up.
- Follow safety recommendations when using chain saws and power tools.
- Help prevent mold by disinfecting household items with a bleach solution.