Flood safety tips and resources

August 26, 2017

Floods are the most common natural disaster. Some floods develop over a period of several days, but a flash flood can cause raging waters in just a few minutes.

Mudflows are another danger triggered by flooding that can bury villages without warning, especially in mountainous regions.

Everyone is at risk from floods and flash floods, even in areas that seem harmless in dry weather. Always listen to the radio or TV to hear the latest updates. Some other types of radios are the NOAA Weather Radio and Environment Canada Weatheradio with battery backup and tone-alert feature that alert you when a Watch or Warning has been issued.

 

BEFORE A FLOOD (OR HEAVY RAIN):

Prepare – Review some Flood Mitigation tips

Learn the buzzwords – Learn the terms / words used with floods…

  • Flood watch – flooding is possible
  • Flash flood watch – flash flooding is possible so move to higher ground if in a low-lying area
  • Flood warning – flooding is occurring or will occur soon so listen to radio or TV for updates or evacuation alerts
  • Flash flood warning – flash flood is occurring so seek higher ground on foot immediately
  • Urban and Small Stream Advisory – flooding of small streams, streets and low-lying areas is occurring

Learn risks – Ask local emergency management office if your property is a flood-prone or high-risk area and what you can do to reduce risks to your property and home. Find out what official flood warning signals are and what to do when you hear them. Ask if there are dams or levees nearby and if they could be hazards.  

Be ready to evacuate – Listen to local authorities and leave if you are told to evacuate.  

Make a plan – Develop a Family Emergency Plan and Disaster Supplies Kit. And download Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium’s “Flood Recovery Booklet” to learn how to dry materials like artwork, books, photographs, etc. at www.iowaconserveandpreserve.org

Learn to shut off – Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves — and ask local utilities for instructions.

Get insurance…? – Talk to your agent and find out more about the National Flood Insurance Program or visit www.FloodSmart.gov

Did you know…

  • you can buy federal flood insurance through most major insurance companies and licensed agents?!
  • you do not have to own a home to have flood insurance as long as your community participates in the NFIP?!
  • NFIP offers coverage even in flood-prone areas and offers basement and below ground level coverage?!

Put it on film/chip/drive – Either videotape or take pictures of home and personal belongings and store them in a safe place with important papers.

 

DURING A FLOOD (OR HEAVY RAIN):

Be aware – Listen to local news and watch for flash floods especially if near streams, drainage channels, and areas known to flood. Be prepared to fill and place sandbags in areas as instructed to help combat rising waters.

Get to higher ground – If in a low-lying area, move to higher ground.

Prepare to evacuate – Review some evacuation tips, and IF time also…

  • Secure home and move important items to upper floors.
  • Turn off utilities at main switches or valves if instructed by authorities and DO NOT touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water!
  • Fill up your car with fuel.

Obey warnings – If road signs, barricades, or cones are placed in areas – DO NOT drive around them! Find another way or you may get fined.

Things to avoid:

  • moving water – 6 inches (15 cm) of moving water can knock you off your feet and 2 ft (0.6 m) can float a car
  • flooding car – if flood waters rise around your car, get out and move to higher ground if you can do it safely
  • bad weather – leave early enough so you’re not trapped
  • flooded areas – roadways and bridges may be washed-out
  • downed power lines – extremely dangerous in floods!!

 

AFTER A FLOOD (OR HEAVY RAIN):

Things to avoid:

  • flood waters – avoid since they may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage or may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines – local authorities will say when it’s okay to return
  • moving water – 6 inches (15 cm) can knock you off your feet and 2 ft (0.6 m) can float a car
  • flooded areas – roadways and bridges may be washed-out
  • downed power lines – extremely dangerous and report them to the power company

Obey warnings – If road signs, barricades, or cones are placed in areas – OBEY THEM! Most areas fine people who ignore posted warnings. DO NOT drive around barricades… find another way to get there!

Strange critters – Watch out for snakes and other wildlife in areas that were flooded. Don’t try to care for a wounded critter since it may try to attack you… call your local animal control office or animal shelter.

Flooded food – Throw away food that has come into contact with flood waters since eating it can make you sick.

Drinking water – Wait for officials to advise when water is safe to drink. If you have a well that gets contaminated, find another source or boil water.

Wash your hands – Wash hands often with clean water and soap since flood waters are dirty and full of germs!

Use bleach – The best thing to use for cleaning up flooded areas is household bleach since it helps kill germs.

Sandbags – If any sandbags come into contact with floodwaters, wear rubber gloves when removing them and follow officials’ instructions on where to discard them since they’re most likely contaminated.

Listen – Continue listening to radio or TV for updates on weather and tips on getting assistance for housing, clothing, food, etc.

Insurance – Call your insurance agent or representative to discuss claims.

Mold – Consider asking a restoration professional to inspect your house for mold and visit www.epa.gov/mold for flood cleanup tips.

Above extracted from our book called IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it?

Additional resources:

Flood mitigation and safety resources

Information and tips about NOAA Weather Radios

Landslide and debris flow safety tips

Tips and resources about disaster declarations, response, assistance and recovery

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USFA encourages safety as cold weather approaches Sandy-stricken areas

November 6, 2012

According to the NOAA National Weather Service, a coastal storm is expected to impact the mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning after midnight Tuesday night and continue through Thursday night, with clearing expected by Friday.

Impacts to the effected regions include: strong gusty northerly winds of 20-30 mph with gusts of 40-45 mph, rain of 1 to 2.5 inches along the coast, with lesser amounts inland possible, light wintry precipitation is possible inland, and coastal flooding/beach erosion along the east coast including areas already ravaged by Sandy.

AccuWeather.com is predicting temperatures may even be cold enough for some wet snow to mix in as far south as Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE, for a time Wednesday into Wednesday evening. And reports today indicate the storm is veering a bit away from NJ coastlines, but they still may get some high winds and minor storm surges.

People in the affected area should monitor NOAA weather radio and local news reports for the latest storm conditions and take the necessary precautions to keep safe.

As the cold weather approaches and residents take measures to stay warm (esp. in areas dealing with the aftermath of Sandy), please remember to take safety precautions. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends that in addition to having working smoke and CO alarms, all residents should follow these safety tips to prevent fires and CO poisoning during the recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy:

Preventing Fires

  • Do not enter a building when the smell of natural gas is detected.  Leave the building immediately and contact the fire department.
  • Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
  • Alternative heaters need their space. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away.
  • Make sure your alternative heaters have ‘tip switches.’ These ‘tip switches’ are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.
  • Only use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer and follow suggested guidelines.
  • Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot.
  • Refuel heaters only outdoors.
  • Make sure wood stoves are properly operating, and at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.
  • Use a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting nearby carpets, furniture or other items that can burn.
  • Place space heaters on a floor that is flat and level. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets.  Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and other items that can burn; and place space heaters out of the flow of foot traffic.  Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • To prevent the risk of fire, NEVER leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or place a space heater close to any sleeping person.  Turn the heater off when you leave the area.
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool. An open damper may help prevent build-up of poisonous gases inside the home.
  • Store fireplace ashes in a fire-resistant container, and cover the container with a lid.  Keep the container outdoors and away from combustibles. Dispose of ashes carefully, keeping them away from dry leaves, trash or other items that can burn.
  • Never bring gasoline into a building.

Preventing CO Poisoning

  • Schedule a yearly professional inspection of all fuel-burning home heating systems, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves, water heaters, chimneys, flues and vents.
  • NEVER operate a portable gasoline-powered generator in an enclosed space, such as a garage, shed, or crawlspace, or in the home.
  • Keep portable generators as far away from your home and your neighbors’ homes as possible – away from open doors, windows or vents that could allow deadly carbon monoxide into the home.
  • When purchasing a space heater, ask the salesperson whether the heater has been safety-certified. A certified heater has a safety certification mark. These heaters have the most up-to-date safety features.  An unvented gas space heater that meets current safety standards will shut off if oxygen levels fall too low.
  • Do not use portable propane space heaters indoors or in any confined space, unless they are designed specifically for indoor use.  Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use.
  • Never use gas or electric stoves to heat the home. They are not intended for that purpose and can pose a CO or fire hazard.

Find more fire safety tips on USFA site

Source: USFA


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