Flood Survival Tips:
Survive a Monster Storm
Did you know you’re more likely to face a flood in the next year than you are to be in a car accident? And the odds are even higher for someone you know or care about.
So even if this information does not seem to apply to you, feel free to pass it along. Even if you don’t live on a flood plain. Even if you don’t live in a hurricane zone. Floods can hit just about anywhere if the conditions are right.
And when they do, they can be swift and deadly. Unless you know how to react, you could find yourself caught in a hopeless situation. We’ve compiled a few strategies you can use to survive a flood and minimize damage to your property.
The best time to prepare yourself and your family for a flood is right now. Waiting until the waters start rising to get ready exponentially increases your risk of injury or even death. The basics steps to prepare for a flood are simple.
First, find out about the flood risks in your specific area. Your local Red Cross or Emergency Management Office can tell you how high the risks are for your home.
Next, find out how much higher your home is than nearby bodies of water. Write this information down and keep it with your emergency preparedness kit. Then, if a flood watch happens in your area, you can determine if you’re in danger based on how high the waters are projected to rise compared with your home’s elevation.
After that, put together an emergency plan with your family. Everyone in your family should know what to do and where to go in the event of a flood. Remember to plan for contingencies. For example, if someone is away from home when a flood watch is declared, they should know where to go next – whether they should return to your house or meet at an alternate rendezvous point.
Some Basic Gear You’ll Need
Knowing your flood risks is an important first step, but it’s not enough to keep you and your family safe. You should have some basic gear on hand that can help keep you stay comfortable and safe during a flood.
In some flooding situations, your home may not be in danger, but you may find yourself without power and unable to get to a grocery or hardware store safely. Floods usually compromise the local water system, so it is not a good idea to drink the water from your faucet during a flood.
To comfortably shelter in place, you should have:
Flashlights and batteries – enough for each person in your family to have one.
Water storage – a gallon per person per day for three days at the bare minimum.
A backup food supply and a way to cook it.
Plenty of blankets and a way to safely heat at least one room in your home.
A backup supply of critical prescription drugs for anyone in your family that needs them, and a basic first-aid kit to address minor emergencies.
A battery-operated or hand-crank radio – this is essential. You need access to information. If the situation changes and you need to evacuate, it’s important you find that out as soon as possible. During a flood event, a radio can be your lifeline.
If you have to leave your home, you need a quick bug-out kit that can cover your family’s basic needs for at least three days. Think food, water, first aid, prescriptions, warmth, and communication… much like the shelter-in-place list we just provided.
With a little shopping around, you can put together a ready-to-go bug-out bag that will provide what you need if you have to leave your home in a hurry.
Be Ready for the Unexpected
In the event that you do have to evacuate your home, before you leave, turn off your utilities at the main switches. If possible, you want to switch off any gas, power, or water running into your home. If you don’t where your main switches are, now is a good time to learn. Be sure that all family members know this information, in case you are not there to do it yourself. Unplugging your appliances is another step you can take to help minimize property damage.
Once you’ve left your home, you need to be prepared for anything. Floods can be unpredictable, and the strength of the rushing waters may take you by surprise.
Even a foot-deep flood current can swamp or sweep away most sedan-style cars. Two feet of rushing floodwaters can debilitate a truck. So, plan multiple escape routes from your home in the event of a flood. If one way is blocked by water, rather than trying to navigate it, choose a different route.
“Floods can be unpredictable, and the strength of the rushing waters may take you by surprise. “
If your car does get swamped in the flood, get out of the vehicle as quickly as possible and get to higher ground. Depending on the depth and strength of the flood, the safest high ground may be the roof of your car. Most flood-related deaths are due to people drowning in their cars. Keep a tool in your vehicle to break out your windows, so you can escape even if the water is pinning your doors shut.
Don’t try to cross floodwaters on foot. Even shallow floodwaters can knock you off balance and sweep you away. Another hazard is debris in the water. Fast-moving branches below the water’s surface can knock you over and seriously injure or kill you.
Floods are serious hazards. They cause more property damage than any other type of natural disaster. Every year people die in floods – people who could have easily survived if they had just been known what to do, or followed the rules they’d already heard, like never driving your car onto a flooded road.
Follow the steps that we’ve shared here and you’ll be ready to protect you and your family if a flood ever happens where you live.