Spring is here – finally! Maybe it’s just me, but winter seemed to linger a little longer this year. While spring brings with it the joys of blue skies, warmer temperatures, and blossoming buds, it can also produce an abundance of rain. And with the rain comes the possibility of flooding.
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Because flooding can be caused by a number of reasons – severe storms, continuous rainfall, failure of dams and levees, clogged drainage systems, pipes bursting – communities all across the nation can experience flooding. Flooding is also one of the most costly natural disasters in our nation. On average, flood damage costs the U.S. almost $4 billion annually. According to Floodsmart.gov, the average flood claim over the last five years was more than $34,000.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can prepare for flood season and reduce your risk of damage caused by flooding.
1. Know your risk.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a Flood Map Service Center (MSC) that is available to the public. These flood zone maps delineate areas most at risk of flooding. To find out your home’s risk level, check out FEMA’s MSC at https://msc.fema.gov/portal.
2. Consider purchasing flood insurance.
Beware that most homeowner’s insurances do not cover flooding. Because of that, most mortgage companies will require you to purchase a separate flood insurance policy if your home is located in a high-risk area. Flood insurance premium rates usually correspond to the flood zone level in which your home is located (based on FEMA’s MSC flood maps, mentioned above). The higher the degree of risk, the higher your insurance premium will be.
3. Keep your family safe.
Make a family emergency plan. There are excellent resources available to help you create your family’s emergency plan, such as Ready.gov and American Red Cross. Every family should create a basic plan, but take extra precautions if you are in a high risk flood zone. Once you have a written plan established, be sure to communicate it to all family members so that everyone knows how to respond. Designate a location to store your emergency plan that is easily accessible to all, in case you are not home when an emergency arises. Finally, discuss basic flood safety tips with your children:
- Stay away from areas subject to flooding. Do not play near creeks, streams, ditches, storm drains, or culverts.
- Do not swim or play in flood water. Flood waters can be contaminated, electrified, or filled with dangerous debris. Snakes can also be an issue as flood waters often flush them from their homes.
- Do not walk through moving water. Just a few inches of rushing water can sweep you off your feet. If you encounter flooding, turn around or climb to higher ground. If you become trapped, call 9-1-1 immediately.
4. Protect your property.
There are a few items you can install in your home that will help prevent extensive:
- Check/backflow valves to prevent sewer lines from backing up into your home’s drains.
- A sump pump system in your basement.
- A flood detection device from NWOSS. This device connects to your security system and will signal an alarm when it senses water. Contact us at 800-833-6416 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are located in a high risk flood zone, you may want to consider more extensive options to protect your property. Check out FEMA’s Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting for more information.
- Know Your Risk, Take Action & Be a Force of Nature during Flood Safety Awareness Week, FEMA News Release, March 16, 2015