How to Prepare for a Flood

prepare for a flood

If you think you don’t need to prepare for a flood, think again. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, severe flooding has at some time affected every state in the U.S.—and almost every county, too. There’s nothing you can do to interrupt natural forces, however, taking time to prepare for a flood may keep you safe, minimize losses, and make you feel more in control of events, whatever may come.

Here are suggestions from government sources, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to prepare for a flood.

Know Your Risk

FEMA publishes flood risk maps that depict the average chance of a flood occurring at your specific address. These maps are available online and help you prepare for a flood by indicating the chance of flooding as well as likely severity.

Get Insured

Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Homeowners should secure flood insurance provided by the National Flood Insurance Program, a government-backed policy sold by private insurance agents.

Prepare the Home

If the flood map indicates a higher-than-average flood risk, take advance measures to minimize damage to the house.

  • Have an electrician elevate critical components, such as electrical panels, wiring, and HVAC systems, at least one foot above likely water level.
  • Waterproof basement walls and install a sump pump with a battery backup.
  • Keep roof gutters and downspouts clear.
  • Arrange to move valuables and important documents to a safe place if flooding threatens.
  • Know how to turn off electricity to the house at the main electrical panel. Also, know the location of the main gas shutoff valve and the main water shutoff valve. If flooding threatens, before evacuating the home, shut off electricity, gas, and water.

Stay Aware

Purchase an NOAA weather radio with hazard alerts or at least keep a reliable battery-powered standard radio-ready at all times. In weather conditions where flooding is likely, monitor the radio for alerts, including Flood Watch, which means to prepare for a flood, or Flood Warning, which indicates that flooding is likely, and you should evacuate immediately.

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