With today's drastic climate changes, knowing how to avoid flood damage may prove to be both property and life saving, even in if you don't live in a flood prone area.
Avoiding flood damage starts with knowing the facts. Find out if your home is in a floodplain. Check with the local emergency service office for a flood map. This will indicate places where flooding may occur. From here, you can determine the extent of flood damage protection you need to do for your home.
Before building a new house, make sure to discuss with your contractor ways to flood-proof your new home. Also, consider insuring your property against flood damage especially if it is in a flood-prone zone. Standard home insurance policies do not normally cover for this.
Here are some ways to protect your home:
- Place your valuables in a safe and waterproof location. Your valuables do not only refer to cash or jewelry, but more importantly to documents including: birth and marriage certificates, passports, driver's licenses, social security and tax records, insurance policies, wills and deeds to your property.
- Elevate all electrical wiring including outlets/sockets, light switches and lighting fixtures at least one foot above the potential level of flood waters. If your existing fuse panel box or circuit breaker is in the basement, it is wise to relocate it to a higher floor.
- Elevate all large electrical appliances like washing machines, dryers, water heaters and furnaces. If these cannot be elevated or moved to a higher location, consider building a flood wall around them.
- If you have a fuel tank at home, secure it to the floor to prevent it from floating. If a fuel tank tips over, its contents may spill and catch fire.
- Install check valves in floor drains as well as sewer traps. This is to prevent the flood waters from going back up into the drains. You may need to call a plumber for this task.
- Seal the basement and first floor walls with waterproofing compounds to prevent water from seeping in.
Once a Flood Watch or Flood Warning is issued:
- Place sandbags outside ground level doors and basement windows to prevent water from seeping in.
- Transfer small electrical appliances (and other valuable items/furnishings) to a higher location. For those that cannot be transferred, unplug them from the electrical outlets. If you have time, transfer other items and supplies to where it cannot be damaged by water. This may include food, clothing, linens and household cleaning and maintenance supplies.
- Continue to monitor your local television and radio news stations for updates on the weather and flood situation. They provide you with round-the-clock information on emergency preparedness and other important facts.
- Should you be asked by your local government to move to a higher ground or to evacuate, do so ASAP. Be sure to shut off the main power to your home as well as the gas and water supply. Lock your doors and windows.
It may seem expensive to start protecting your home from flood damage. But consider that it is more costly to replace, repair and rebuild after the flood waters have gone down.