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5 Essential Flash Flood Safety Tips

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

flash floodingThough tornadoes and hurricanes top the headlines, observing a few flash flood safety tips could actually save more lives. In an average year, over 125 people die in flash floods in the U.S.—nearly twice the fatalities due to tornadoes and hurricanes. A flash flood is the sudden inundation of a normally dry, low-lying area with fast moving, rapidly rising flood water. Typically, it follows intense rainfall. However, storm activity may occur miles from the area actually affected by flooding, which may remain totally dry until a surging wall of water strikes, often with only brief warning.

No region is totally immune to the damage and danger posed by this extreme weather phenomenon. Here are five flash flood safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Know Your Risk. Find out in advance if your home is located in a low-lying area susceptible to flash flooding under certain weather circumstances. Know where the nearest higher ground is located and the safest, most direct route to reach it.
  2. Get Ready To Go. If a flash flood watch is posted by the National Weather Service, prepare to evacuate. Remaining at home will not be a safe option in most cases. Stay tuned to local media and/or NOAA emergency radios for updates.
  3. Act Fast. If a flash flood warning is announced, evacuate to higher ground without delay. You do not have time to make efforts to preserve property or possessions.
  4. “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” During evacuation, do not drive or walk through flood water. The current generated by a flash flood only two feet deep will float most vehicles off the road. If you are on foot, be aware that just six inches of swift-flowing flood water can knock you down.
  5. Stay Away Until It’s Safe. A flash flood may occur in a series of surges. Just because water temporarily recedes doesn’t mean it’s safe to return home yet. Wait until an official “All Clear” is issued by authorities before returning to low-lying areas.

 

The Flood Is Over… But Is It Safe To Go Home?

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

flooded homeReentering a flooded house is a priority for most homeowners as soon as the water recedes. However, it’s important to consider this: Any structure affect by floodwater must be considered a hazardous environment. Injuries and death frequently occur after the main disaster event has subsided—just when the occupants thought it was safe to come back again. Before hastily reentering a flooded house, stop and think about these factors first.

  • If evacuation was mandatory, you shouldn’t even be in the vicinity until local authorities have given the green light for residents to return. You may expose yourself to law enforcement sanctions if you come back to an area before it is officially permissible.
  • Don’t enter a flooded house if the electricity is on. Shut off electricity at the main panel only if the area of the house where the panel is located is completely dry. If it is wet, you’ll need an electrician or a technician from the utility to disconnect power at the meter. Even if the local power grid is down, stay out of the structure until house power has been shut off. Grid electricity could be restored without warning at any minute and result in electrocution.
  • If you smell natural gas, shut off the gas at the main shutoff valve. If you are unable to access the shutoff valve, stay out of the house and call the gas company.
  • Floodwater is contaminated and toxic. Take precautions to avoid direct contact with floodwater including proper clothing, gloves, eye protection and a breathing mask.
  • Be aware of structural hazards. Stay out of rooms with sagging, saturated walls or ceiling. They may collapse at any time.
  • Don’t wade into deep standing water such as a flooded basement.
  • Be aware that animals including venomous snakes may inhabit flooded premises.
  • Open doors and windows to initiate ventilation.
  • Once power is safely restored, don’t turn on any major appliances or your HVAC system if these components were contacted by floodwater. They should be inspected by an electrician first.

Ask the water damage experts at Rytech, Inc. for more about safely reentering a flooded house.

 

Flooding Aftermath: Cleaning up When the Unexpected Occurs

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

flood damaged carpetWhen flooding strikes your home, what can you do yourself and what should be left to experts? In most cases, an inundation by outdoor flooding calls for professional water damage recovery to protect your house and belongings—not only from the immediate damage but from long-term consequences such as toxic mold contamination. That’s one reason homeowner’s insurance companies typically require clean-up to be performed by a qualified water damage recovery firm with the training and specialized equipment to mitigate losses in the aftermath of significant flooding. However, that doesn’t rule out a few basic, do-it-yourself efforts to expedite the process:

  • First, don’t enter the house until it has been declared safe. If electricity is on, be aware of electrocution hazards in the wet environment. Wear a face mask for breathing protection, gloves and boots to avoid contact with flood water.
  • Remove as much pooled water as possible by pushing it out the door using a floor squeegee or, if one is not available, a wide floor broom. Don’t wade into deep standing water such as a flooded basement, however.
  • Excessive indoor humidity from flooding can damage parts of the house that aren’t directly contacted by water. Open doors and windows throughout the house to allow humidity to escape. If you have electricity, run fans to enhance ventilation but don’t use in wet areas.
  • If water inundation is due to widespread outdoor flooding, consider all water inside the house to be contaminated with sewage, toxic chemicals and/or other health threats. Any items contacted by flood water thus need to be disinfected with a mixture of 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach per one gallon of clean water. Items you elect not to disinfect should be removed and discarded.
  • Carpets soaked by outdoor flood waters should be considered contaminated and can be removed from the house immediately if practical. If water contacting the carpet came from a clean indoor source like a ruptured pipe, leave it in place for water damage professionals to extract the water. Throw rugs can usually be washed and disinfected.

For qualified professional water damage recovery services, contact Rytech, Inc.

 

Hidden Dangers: Surprising Sources of Flood Contamination Risks

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Flood contamination risks may result from both obvious and less-obvious sources. Most people know that surface flood water entering your home should be considered toxic and direct contact avoided. Clean-up is best left to water damage recovery specialists with the equipment and expertise to ensure competent, thorough disinfection of your home. In addition to this primary contamination source, however, flood contamination risks also arise from other sources.

flood contamination risksMunicipal Water

Most people think tap water is safe after a flood event. Maybe so, maybe not. Flooding may affect municipal water supplies in two ways. If the local water is drawn from surface sources such as lakes and rivers, the unusually large amount of sediment stirred up by the storm or other flood event may interfere with proper disinfection at the water utility. Tap water may appear cloudy and its quality may be suspect. Where municipal water is drawn from wells, if the location of the well head is swamped by flooding, the well may be inundated with pollution and biohazards present in surface flood water, making the source unsafe. After flooding, listen to radio and TV news broadcasts for information on the status of municipal water.

Sewage Reflux

If the municipal sewer system becomes inundated with flood water, normal sewage flow may reverse and raw sewage may back up into your home through the drain system, bringing extremely dangerous biohazards. Sewage reflux first appears at the lowest drains in the house—basement floor drains are a frequent entry point. Sewage backup into a home may be extreme if the municipal system is severely swamped, making the house unsafe for occupation until professional decontamination is performed.

Toxic Products Overflow

Common household products like paint, solvents, pesticides and other common substances may contribute to flood contamination risks if they are swamped by flood water and spillage inside the house results. In locales at greater risk of flooding, toxic or caustic chemicals should be stored outside the house, in a garage or separate storage shed.

For more advice on identifying flood contamination risks, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Staying Safe: What You Need to Know About Reentering a Flooded House

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Before reentering a flooded house, make the safety of yourself and others your first priority. Anyone who’s been the victim of flooding knows the feeling of anxiety: you want to get back inside your home ASAP and check on the extent of damage to the structure and irreplaceable valuables. However, houses aren’t designed to hold water. Flooding from any source turns that familiar, safe environment into a danger zone for several reasons.

Here are some hazards of reentering a flooded house to be aware of.

reentering a flooded houseElectricity

Electrical power and a water-saturated environment mean danger from electrocution. If the electricity is still on, it should be shut off by an electrician. If local utility power has been interrupted by the flood, the house should still be considered unsafe because power could be restored unexpectedly at any moment. A professional electrician will shut the power off by removing the meter, then verify the safety of the system before restoring power.

Structural Collapse

Gypsum wallboard and composite ceiling panels can act like sponges and absorb water volume weighing hundreds of pounds. Typically, walls or ceilings bulge or sag under the weight and may collapse suddenly, injuring persons in the room. Stay out of rooms where walls are bulging or ceiling panels are sagging and/or dripping.

Gas-Fired Appliances

According to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, exposure to floodwater can make gas-fired furnaces, water heaters and stoves unsafe to operate. If there is any question whether water has contacted these units, don’t attempt to relight or use the system until it has been checked by a qualified HVAC contractor or plumber.

Toxic Sewage

Raw sewage is a biohazard. Overflowing sewage elsewhere may be swept up in floodwaters that inundate your home, or a flooded municipal system may reflux sewage back into your house through drains and other entry points. Take steps to protect yourself from raw sewage by wearing gloves, eye protection and waterproof boots. Wash your hands frequently and avoid contact with contaminated water.

Before reentering a flooded house, ask the professionals at Rytech about more ways to stay safe.

Staying Safe: Precautions to Take When There is a Flash Flood Warning

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Every year, basic flash flood safety tips turn out to be good advice for millions of Americans. Flash floods are considered a coast-to-coast threat because they may result from a variety of triggering events. The most common cause of flash flooding is extreme amounts of rainfall or snow melt occurring faster than the soil can absorb the water. A flash flood can take place within minutes or up to several hours after a triggering event. It’s important to note that flash floods may affect dry areas distant from the area where the heavy rain actually fell.

A flash flood watch issued by the National Weather Service is a notification to stay alert because conditions that may result in flooding are possible. A flash flood warning, however, means floodingflash flood safety tips is imminent or already occurring. It’s an urgent message to take immediate action to preserve life. If the National Weather Service issues a flash flood warning, here are a few flash flood safety tips to keep in mind:

  • If you are advised to evacuate, act fast to move to higher ground. Lock your house and go. Once a warning has been issued, you may have only a very short time to reach safety.
  • The safest action is to go to the nearest higher ground on foot. If you must drive your vehicle, don’t attempt to drive through flooded areas. The majority of flash flood deaths in the U.S. occur inside vehicles swept away by high water. If your car should be swamped by flood water, abandon the vehicle at once and get to higher ground on foot.
  • Don’t walk or wade into moving water. Flowing water only six inches deep has enough velocity to knock you down.
  • Avoid any casual contact with standing water. Flood water may be extremely toxic due to raw sewage or chemicals that have been picked up along the path of flooding.
  • If the potential for threatening weather exists, don’t camp or park near streams or dry washes.

For more flash flood safety tips, ask the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Flood Safety: How to Keep Your Pets and Family Safe in a Flood

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Because flooding is the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., a few flood safety tips are good advice at any time of year. Flooding may occur in the form of flash floods that happen with little or no warning or as a result of tropical storms or hurricanes preceded by days of official updates and alerts. Once rising water looms, however, flood safety steps to keep your family and pets safe are the same whether the flood is a surprise or an expected event.

  • When weather conditions that might trigger flooding occur, stay informed. Keep a radio tuned to a local station for flood alerts. If you live in an area designated as a floodplain, a NOAA Weather Radio that broadcasts up-to-date weather and flood warnings continuously is a good investment.
  • As the risk of flooding mounts, begin preparations now. Get family members together and gather valuable irreplaceable documents if you have time.
  • All pets should have an enclosed pet carrier for use in an evacuation. Dogs too large for a carrier should have collars on and leashes to keep them under control.
  • Obey evacuation orders. If you’re told to leave your home, turn off all electricity at the circuit breaker panel, and turn off the main gas valve, too, if you’re able. Leave quickly and go to the evacuation area you are directed to.
  • Don’t attempt to walk through flood waters. Fast-moving water only six inches deep carries enough velocity to knock an adult down.
  • More than half of flood-related drownings happen in a vehicle. Don’t drive through flooded roadways or fast-moving water. Stop. Turn around and drive toward higher ground elsewhere.
  • Avoid contact with flood water. It may contain biohazards like raw sewage or other toxic substances. Keep pets away from the water, too.
  • Don’t return to your home until you are advised by authorities that it is safe to do so.

For more information about effective flood safety, contact the water damage professionals at Rytech, Inc.