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Knowing what to expect and making a safety plan before the floodwaters come can significantly reduce your family’s stress level. Here are some helpful tips to ease your mind and help you prepare.
Before the Storm
Helping everyone in your family understand important safety measures can be the difference between life and death. Reviewing your family’s readiness plan and safety tips before a flood is forecasted for your area can go a long way in keeping your family safe. Consider these important safety tips to ensure the best outcome:
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts
Have a weather radio (with backup batteries) to stay up-to-date on National Weather Service weather and emergency alerts and download apps that send local emergency alerts directly to your phone. This information can be crucial in knowing when flood warnings are issued, when you need to seek shelter and evacuations are ordered.
Know the difference in watches and warnings: A flood watch means that a flood, or flash flood, is possible but has not yet happened. A flood warning means that a flood, or flash flood, is already happening or is about to happen very shortly. It also means you should take immediate precautions.
Consider Flood Insurance
Your homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover flooding. Flood insurance can take 30 days to go into effect so consider this as a part of your planning. Contact your local insurance agent to get details about how this safeguard can help protect you.
Understand Evacuation Zones
Severe thunderstorms can produce large amounts of rainfall in a short period of time, causing severe flooding and flash floods. Know your evacuation zone. Log on to your county’s website and search for your evacuation zone by using your address.
Another tool for finding your evacuation zone is to log onto FEMA’s website and enter your address. Most counties have four evacuation zones – A, B, C and D – that indicate areas where flooding may occur. Zone A is nearest water and is usually the first zone to be evacuated.
Have an Evacuation Plan
Know the nearest emergency shelter location and plan several different routes to get there — you never know when roads may be impassable.
And, if you have pets, you should do some research to ensure pets are welcomed at the shelter you’ve chosen. When bringing a pet with you, you’ll need your pet’s collar, leash, food and medications. Make sure these items are included with your emergency supplies.
Protect Your Home and Personal Property
Flooding can impact many aspects of your home, but some steps can be taken before the flood to give you the best chance for a positive outcome:
- Construct permanent barriers (when possible) to stop floodwater from entering your home.
- Have a professional raise your furnace, water heater and electrical panels.
- Install check valves in plumbing lines to stop floodwater from backing up into your drains.
- Place sandbags around your home when flooding is expected (many communities offer free sandbags to residents).
- Seal basement walls with a waterproofing product to avoid water leaking through cracks.
During the Storm
When storms hit, your family looks to you for guidance. Follow these helpful guidelines to keep your family safe:
Get to a Safe Location
Be prepared to move up one floor if flooding happens. Move to a safe room in the interior of your home and avoid windows, sliding glass doors, doors with glass panes and skylights. Be sure to bring your battery-operated or hand-crank radio with you to keep up-to-date on weather alerts and your fully stocked first aid kit.
Ways to Reduce Stress
When natural disasters like a flood happen, your regular routines are disrupted, and you’re likely worried about losing loved ones, your home, your personal belongings and even your job.
Each family member reacts to stress differently – some react positively and rise to the occasion while others react with dread, anxiety, fear, helplessness and more. Now is the time to keep lines of communication open and to look to your faith for comfort. It will also help if you:
Answer Your Children’s Questions
Give age-appropriate details of what’s going on. Ask them about their concerns and clarify any misunderstanding of the situation you find yourselves in.
Open a Dialogue
Listen to what loved ones are saying and ask them to tell you what they’re feeling. Let them know their feelings are validated, and be careful not to brush their concerns aside, even if they seem silly to you.
Prayer — individually or as a family — is a great way to keep in touch with your spiritual side and reduce your stress. Talking to God allows you to be a vessel for His words and comfort, and to acknowledge He’s in charge.
Deep breathing exercises, guided imagery and reflection are all great ways to de-stress. Physical activity, if the situation allows, can also help you work off nervous energy.
Children and other family members look to you for cues on how to behave, especially in uncertain situations. By remaining calm, you can help your children and family members cope more successfully.
Every second counts. If flood alerts are issued or you’re instructed to evacuate due to flooding, take action immediately — don’t hesitate. Your response time can have a significant impact on your family’s safety.
For more information about storm safety and preparation, tune in to AdventHealth’s latest news.