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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Checklist For Preparing For A Flood in Ft Lauderdale

3/20/2020 (Permalink)

When it floods... be prepared with a solution, step by step

Checklist For Preparing For A Flood

Flooding is the most common form of natural disaster in the U.S. and it can happen anywhere at any time

Your odds for surviving a flood can increase dramatically if you know what to do and take the proper steps not only ahead of time, but also during the flood itself and afterward.

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to start acting; the sooner you begin to prepare the better off you, your home and your family will be.

There are several types of flooding that can strike a given area, from slow onset to flash floods. In the case of flash floods, that occur quickly when a levee or dam breaks, there may be little time to prepare. This is why taking steps ahead of time, before disaster strikes, is so vitally important.

Before The Flood Strikes

It is important to take certain steps well before any type of emergency, while you still have a clear head and have the time to be thorough.

In some areas, the chances for flooding can be greater at certain times of the year, so knowing when the flood season is should be your first step in disaster preparation.

Here are other important steps to take ahead of a flood:

  • Know Your Risk – do some research to determine exactly what your risk is for flooding.

    Even if your home isn’t located in a high-risk area, you should still be prepared. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), 25% of all flood claims each year come from homes that aren’t in high-risk areas. 

  • Stay Informed – Getting up to the minute weather reports and emergency warnings can mean the difference between life and death. Local news and community emergency notification systems can give you vital information.

    You should also have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio that works with a hand crank or have extra batteries for it in case of a power outage.

  • Know Evacuation Routes – evacuating the area is generally the best way to stay safe when a flood hits. You should have a clear inland route that stays away from bridges or bodies of water and all members of your family should be aware of it.

    If you can, you should drive that route during good weather to become more familiar with it.

  • Plan For Relocation – it may be necessary to remain away from home for some time until floodwaters recede, so you’ll need a safe place to go for temporary shelter.

    Either make plans to stay with family and friends outside of the area or learn where your local American Red Cross shelters are so you can get to safety quickly. 

  • Have A Communication Plan – You may be separated from your family members when an evacuation order is issued, so you should know beforehand how to communicate with each other in this case.

    When emergencies strike phone lines can quickly become jammed so texting is usually a quicker and more secure way to communicate.

    Keep important phone numbers written down in your wallet as well as on your phone so you’ll be able to communicate in any eventuality.

  • Know Your First Aid Skills – It may be necessary to provide emergency first aid if first responders can’t get to you right away, so you should get training to administer First Aid and CPR.

    Have a well-equipped first aid kit handy so you’ll have any emergency supplies you might need. The Community Response Team (CERT) Program provides training in basic response skills such as fire safety and light search and rescue. 

  • Make An Emergency Kit – You should put together a “Go Bag” with important supplies that you can grab quickly as you evacuate.

    When compiling your bag, remember the “5 P’s”:

    • People – you, your loved ones, and when possible, your pets should come first.
    • Prescriptions – make sure you have all of your medications as well as dosage information, any other necessary medical equipment, eyeglasses and hearing aids.
    • Papers – keep hard copies and electronic copies on hard drives or thumb drives of all important documents.
    • Personal needs – be sure to include clothes, toiletries, food, water, first aid kit, phones and chargers, batteries, and any items needed for individuals with special needs, the elderly or infants.
    • Priceless items – include pictures, irreplaceable mementos, and any other valuables.

  • Don’t Forget Important Documents – You’ll want to have all of the necessary documents to begin making an insurance claim, including your insurance policy, a complete list of your home’s contents and rental or mortgage agreements.

  • Prepare Your Home – you can help mitigate damage by elevating the heating system and electrical panel, installing “check valves” in sewer lines, waterproofing your basement and installing a sump pump, keeping gutters and drainpipes clear, and stockpiling emergency equipment such as sandbags, plywood and plastic sheeting.

  • Have A Family Plan – it’s important that every member of your family is aware of the proper flood preparation steps and what to do in an emergency so be sure to discuss it with everyone ahead of time.

    Talking through your disaster preparation ahead of time can help to make everyone safer.

During The Flood

Most flood-related injuries and deaths stem from people becoming trapped. When flooding occurs you should pay careful attention to any evacuation orders and follow them carefully.

Don’t assume that you can handle the situation on your own; even a small amount of water can have deadly results so keep yourself and your family safe by following these steps:

  • Evacuate– this is THE most important step to take. Just six inches of moving water is enough to knock you off your feet and a foot of water can sweep a vehicle away, so you should never risk trying to cross floodwaters. As soon as an evacuation order is issued, follow the route you’ve prepared and get to safety.

  • Prepare Your House – if the flood is slow-moving and you have time to take emergency precautions, move any valuables you can’t take with you to higher ground; turn off the gas, water, and electricity if you can do so safely; put sandbags around your property to help stem the flow of water.

  • Avoid Flood Water – if you see flood water, do not attempt to cross it. Even if it seems shallow, the ground underneath the water could be compromised which might present a greater danger.

    Floodwaters can also contain other hazards such as rocks, mud, oil, debris and even venomous snakes.

  • Know What To Do If You’re Trapped – if you become trapped by quickly rising water, call 911 and move to the highest level of the building you are in, avoiding closed attics as you could become trapped and only moving to the roof as a last resort.

    If you’re in a vehicle and can turn around safely, do so, otherwise climb up onto the roof. If you’re outdoors, move to higher ground.

After The Flood

It can take several days for floodwaters to recede completely so don’t assume that you can get back into your home safely right away.

Even as the water recedes it can still contain hazards so you need to exercise caution. Here are the steps to take after a flood:

  • Wait For The All Clear – do not attempt to return to your home until the authorities have declared it safe to do so. When you do return, don’t drive through floodwaters and be on the lookout for debris. Also, stay away from downed power lines.

  • Enter Cautiously – even when you have been allowed to return to your home, you should proceed with caution as you don’t know what kind of damage has been done or what kind of dangerous debris the flood may have left behind.

  • Don’t Wade In Floodwater – even as floodwater recedes, it can still be dangerous so you should avoid wading through it. Floodwater can be contaminated with gas, oil or even raw sewage so it should be treated as a hazard.

  • Take Personal Safety Precautions – be particularly careful to protect yourself from health hazards such as mold, asbestos, electrical shock, and lead paint.

    Wear protective clothing when beginning the cleanup process, including respiratory masks and goggles.

  • Don’t Touch Electric or Gas Sources– turn off the electricity in your house and call a licensed electrician to make any repairs or turn the power back on. Contact your utility company to turn the gas main back on.

  • Remember Fire Safety – use flashlights in homes without power rather than any source of light with an open flame, like torches, lanterns or matches, as these can be a fire hazard.

  • Only Use Generators Outside – Remember that carbon monoxide discharge from generators can kill, so only use generators outside and away from windows.

  • Service Damaged Septic Systems – damaged sewer or septic systems can be a serious health hazard so get any damage repaired as quickly as possible.

  • Don’t Eat or Drink – have wells checked for contamination and check with local authorities to find out when it’s safe to use tap water. Also, throw out any food that did not stay at a proper temperature or was exposed to floodwaters and don’t eat from flooded gardens.

  • Clean Carefully – Clean and disinfect anything that got wet, using proper protective measures including gloves, goggles, and masks. In order to assure proper clean up follow five basic steps: air out, move out, tear out, clean out and dry out.  For any cleanup that is beyond your capabilities, call a disaster relief company.

  • Check the Structure – use a moisture meter to ensure that all wood studs and framing are sound; remove any damaged drywall or paneling. Make sure everything is thoroughly dry before replacing drywall to avoid mold growth.

  • Take Photos – your insurance company will require photographic evidence of the damage so make sure you get plenty of photos of everything before you start repairing.

  • Mitigate Damage Not Covered By Insurance – take any necessary steps to mitigate damage that your insurance policy won’t cover, such as putting a tarp on a damaged roof or boarding up windows.

  • Stay In Communication – in the immediate aftermath of a flood, stay up to date with local information sources to get any alerts or information. Remember to use texts or social media to communicate with family members as phone lines can become overwhelmed.

  • Look Out for Loved Ones – the stress of dealing with this kind of emergency can take a toll on you and your loved ones. Be aware of any signs that you or your loved ones are becoming depressed or anxious and if you need it, seek professional help.

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