A few days ago, my hometown was hit with a microburst storm followed by unusual flooding. Teenagers were canoeing and wakeboarding down their streets while others were frantically bailing out basements. I recently moved from Pennsylvania where flooding is extremely common and most homes have sump pumps in their basements. Even when flooding is unexpected or uncommon, preparation brings peace of mind and can make an enormous difference in the unlikely event that a flood arrives. One of my friends whose basement flooded was so grateful that she had just boxed up her storage items in the basement and placed them on shelves so nothing was on the ground to be ruined. Here are some ideas to prepare for flooding:
Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:
- A copy of your insurance policies with your agents contact information.
- A household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims. For more information visit www.knowyourstuff.org.
- Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.
- First make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement. (If you have one)
- Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
- Anchor any fuel tanks.
- Raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home's projected flood elevation.
- Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
- Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
- Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
- Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.
- Have a plan to protect your pets.