by Paul North
Although it may not be the apocalypse, flooding is a serious threat to many areas of the world. Floods can come unexpectedly and wreak havoc quickly so it is important to be as well prepared as possible for them. They can just as easily be caused by adverse weather conditions, such as the floods in the UK over the last couple of years, or unexpected accidents such as a burst dam. But how do you prepare for the unexpected?
Research your area
Whether it is somewhere you already live, and especially if it is somewhere you are potentially considering moving to, researching the potential flood conditions of an area are essential to determine how at risk you could be. In the UK you can obtain the flood history of any property from the Environment Agency for free (unless the report takes over 18 hours to put together when there is a small fee associated with it). In the US you can check if your home is near a flood plain by accessing FEMA’s Flood Map Service Centre. This is particularly useful if you are researching land to build a property on, and you can check as many different areas as you need to.
Have a plan
This may sound obvious but a lot of people who live in high flood risk areas accept this, and yet have no plan in place should the worst happen. Having a carefully considered plan can save you time and money in the event of a flood if you implement it quickly enough to alleviate any damage, or at least of the worst of it. Sandbags are often used to block doors and create a barrier against floodwater. The best time to get your sandbags is, or course, before a flood has hit so make sure you have a supply of these ready to be used. You will be able to respond quicker, resulting in less damage, if you have these at hand straight away. If you do not have any sandbags they can be made from old clothes and bed sheets, and filled with gravel or even dirt if that is all that is available.
If preventing the flood damage is not possible you should also have prepared to leave your property as quickly as you can, taking important possessions with you. This means having a bag of essentials prepared so you can leave quickly, as well as knowing where anything is that you may want to take with you on short notice and ensuring it is somewhere that can be easily reached as you leave. Remember that you may need to be away from home for days, or even week depending on how bad the damage is.
It is also important to plan and prepare for staying in your home in certain conditions. A flood may wipe out your water and electricity supply, even if the water itself doesn’t reach you. Having a well thought out stock of candles, lamps, drinking water and other supplies could make all the difference between continuing to live comfortably or having to leave your home. It is also important to have a supply of food in case you are stuck for any period of time. Tinned food is the best as it is not susceptible to flood damage like fresh food and can be kept and stored for long periods of time.
As well as the obvious such as food and drinking water, there are several items that will make your life much easier if trapped in a flood. These include waterproof clothes, which will keep you comfortable and dry and waterproof containers for electrical items such as your mobile phones and torches. Torches are of course another essential item, as well as a small kit of medical supplies. Most homes will have a basic first aid kit but it worth keeping on top of this and making sure this is always well stocked and ready to be used. If anyone in the house takes regular medication that they cannot do without then you should also ensure there is always a good supply of this in the house.
All items, where possible, should be stored on the upper floor of the house as high as possible, in order to keep them away from any potential flood damage.
Whilst most people tend to be sensible enough to take out insurance for their home and contents, a lot of insurance policies do not cover floods. Instead of getting caught out, take the time to research your policy and if flood damage is not covered invest in a separate flood insurance policy too. Although you may not want to spend the extra money, if a flood does affect you then you could end up spending far more if you are not covered by a suitable policy. Having insurance in place will make your life easier during what is bound to be a stressful time.
As well as preparing for all eventualities of a flood you should prepare for the cleanup afterwards. Cleaning after a flood can be complicated. To begin with you may need to remove any loose dirt, rocks and other debris from your home. It can be muddy where the water has been and anything touched by the mud is contaminated and should be cleaned thoroughly or disposed of if this is not possible. Anything that can be salvaged should be cleaned and dried, making sure no trace of the floodwater remains. You will need to disinfect all surfaces so a good supply of bleach for this is essential, and any rugs, carpets or soft furnishings that have been damaged will probably need to be thrown out. No electricity should be used until it has been checked by a professional, and the foundations should be thoroughly checked for cracks and signs of any long term damage that may cause problems further down the line.
This article was written by Paul North from Fireandwatersupplies.com.