Weathering the Storm: A Guide to Flood Preparation and Safety
Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters in the world and it can happen pretty much anywhere at any time, as evidenced by the floods that inundated parts of Australia, Brazil, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United States in the last two weeks. Due to the rapid and unpredictable rate at which rainfall accumulates, flooding should have the utmost level of importance on your organization’s natural disaster watch list.
Flash flood – A flash flood is a flood that happens within six hours. This type of flood is the most dangerous because it usually occurs with little or no warning.
Flood or flash flood watch – A flood is possible in your area.
Flood or flash flood warning – A flood is imminent or already is occurring in your area.
1. Flash floods are ranked the number one weather-related killer in the U.S.
2. 25% of surveyed businesses who had to close down during a flood never reopened their doors.
3. In many cases, it only takes two feet of moving water to carry away your vehicle, including pickup trucks and SUVs, and six inches of water to make you fall over.
Preparing for the flood
Proper research is required for getting your home and organization ready to handle a flood. So, take the time now to locate the nearest shelters and the highest elevated areas. It will also be useful to learn if you are on a flood plain or in an area that is prone to flash floods, but remember floods and flash floods can happen practically anywhere.
At home, you should raise your furnace, water heater, washer, dryer and electric panel the most you can and seal your basement walls. Practice turning off all of your home utilities and take an inventory of your personal property.
You should always assemble an emergency kit for natural disasters. Ideally, you should have one for the home and one for your vehicle. See instructions for what to include in the next blog post.
If a flood watch or warning is issued
Note that if there is any chance of a flash flood, you should immediately seek higher ground. Don’t wait for official instructions to evacuate.
If you are not in immediate danger, bring any outside furniture inside and move all the objects you can to the top floor. Fill up your gas tank in case you need to evacuate or coordinate alternate transportation if you don’t own a vehicle.
Assign a family meeting place and an out-of-state contact who everyone can report their whereabouts and condition to and review all evacuation routes with your family and coworkers. Stay tuned to your local TV and radio for weather updates and/or evacuation instructions.
Furthermore, you should sanitize and then fill your bathtubs, sinks and other containers with fresh, clean water due to possible water contamination. In case you have to go without electricity, you should adjust the temperature of all refrigerators and freezers to the coldest setting as well.
If you are ordered to evacuate
If there is time, turn off your gas, electric power and water lines and disconnect your appliances. Don’t delay your departure as traffic will most likely be extremely heavy and hectic.
Leave everything behind but the essentials, such as your emergency kit. In addition, avoid walking or driving across any body of water because water levels can be deceptively deep or rise surprisingly.
If you are not ordered to evacuate
Keep listening to your local TV and radio for information updates and continue to get everything ready on the chance you are told to evacuate.