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How to survive a flooding emergency: At home, in your car and anywhere

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), an average of 30 people die yearly due to flooding-related accidents. To stay safe during a disaster scenario, it is crucial to have a plan in place before, during and after a severe flooding emergency.

Be prepared

Taking precautions is the first step to ensuring your safety during a flood. Be sure to stock up on candles, fresh water and other emergency kit essentials. Move all electronics and furniture to a higher floor if possible. If you live in an area where floods are common, consider reaching out to an independent insurance agent that offers flood insurance. This will help save time and money after a flood if substantial damage occurs. To determine if you live in a flood zone, navigate to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website to locate your local flood map and other valuable emergency resources.

Don’t hesitate to evacuate

Obtaining a functional radio and batteries is a necessary part of preparing for a severe storm. If you do lose power, a radio can be used to access weather reports and announcements from emergency services. In severe cases, be ready to leave immediately the moment an evacuation order is issued. Remember to include pets in your evacuation preparations as you may not be able to return home for several days.

Stay off the roads

Unless directed otherwise, sheltering in place is often the safest course of action during a severe flood. If you must be out on the roads, exercise extreme caution and do not attempt to drive across flooded roadways. Stop, turn around and find an alternate route. Doing otherwise poses a serious threat to your health and safety. Be sure to have important documents and essentials packed and ready to go in advance of any weather emergency. If you are instructed to evacuate, proceed carefully and quickly to higher ground. Put a communications plan in place to ensure your family knows how to contact each other after the flood. If your car sinks or becomes flooded, get out of the vehicle as quickly as possible and head for dry land. If you are unable to open the doors, exit from a window instead. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to remain on the roof of your car until help arrives or the water levels recede. Do not attempt to swim through rushing floodwater as it may contain harmful debris such as nails or broken glass.

After the flood

Continue to closely monitor the media for weather and emergency updates. If you have already evacuated, do not return home until the authorities tell you it is safe to do so. Note that your water supply may have been contaminated by floodwaters. Until local emergency personnel say otherwise, use bottled water or boiled tap water to avoid waterborne illnesses. Any food that encountered floodwater must be disposed of as well, including canned items. Once the floodwaters have receded, photograph everything around your home and compile a detailed list of your losses. This information will provide proof of your flood insurance claims. Remember that a good insurance policy is one of the best ways to recoup your losses after a natural disaster and provide much needed peace of mind before and after a tragedy.