From making sure your flood insurance policy is up-to-date to quizzing your kids on your emergency preparedness plan, you've taken all the necessary precautions to ensure your family and finances aren't affected by a flood. Unfortunately, chances are you'll forget what you "should" do during a flood and instead, resort to drastic measures to keep your family safe. If you're trapped inside your home or car during a flood, here are a few simple things you can do to survive this harrowing experience:
If You're In Your Home
The waters begin to rise faster than you anticipated and although you've concocted an emergency plan and maybe even practiced it, you're paralyzed and don't know what to do next.
In this situation you have two options: Stay in your home or evacuate to a designated public shelter. If you've been vigilantly listening to the radio and advised to evacuate, it's best to do so immediately:
Begin by listening and following the advised evacuation route. Move carefully, but quickly and only secure your home and belongings if the waters haven't reached your home.
Find an alternate route if the recommended route is already flooded or there are downed power lines.
Ready.gov strongly advises against walking or driving through any moving water. Instead, look for water that is still and to be safe, carefully make sure the ground in front of you is steady before proceeding.
If leaving your home isn't an option because the flood waters are rising too quickly, there are several things you can do to remain safe:
Fill as many bottles, bowls and pitchers you can find with clean water. Only drink this water, not the flood water, as it could be contaminated.
Continue listening to the radio and be prepared to shut off the main electricity source to your home, if advised to do so.
Move to the second floor, your attic or even your roof if necessary. Be prepared to move quickly and to the highest point of your home instead of attempting to evacuate.
If you're home and the flood waters stop rising, don't attempt to evacuate, and instead, wait for help.
Staying Safe While Driving
Attempting to leave your home immediately after a flood warning has been issued is a wise decision, but what happens if you become stuck in your car and the water is quickly rising?
If possible, the National Weather Service recommends sticking to the route recommended by your local authorities. It's only advisable to find a different route first instead if the main route isn't passable. While driving, look for dry ground or water that isn't moving and proceed cautiously until you reach the shelter or higher ground. If you must abandon your car, once again it's best to look for a dry ground or water that isn't moving. Continue until you find higher ground and stay where you are until the water stops moving or you are rescued.
However, if the water is moving all around you, Ready.gov instead recommends staying put inside your car, if possible. If the water begins filling the cab and it's no longer safe, it's time to carefully climb to the roof. Never attempt to swim through the water. Stay put for help, instead.
Whether you're prepared or the flood completely caught you off-guard, keeping you and your family safe while the water is rising involves listening to your radio and following instructions rather than taking drastic unnecessary risks. If you remember anything during the chaos, remember it's never advisable to swim, walk or drive through moving water, even if it is only a few inches deep.
For information on flood recovery, contact a company like Central Flood Management Inc.