Return to the Blog Home Page

National Preparedness Month: Teach Your Children Flood Safety

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Are you ready for National Preparedness Month?  Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), September is the designated month each year to encourage readiness for potential natural disasters. The theme for 2019 is “Prepared, Not Scared.”  

In the U.S., floods typically kill about 100 persons every year, far exceeding the death toll caused by any other natural hazard including tornadoes and hurricanes. To make sure everyone in the family is aware of the potential danger, it’s important to include children when providing information on how to stay safe in the event of a flood. Here are some suggestions from FEMA and the American Red Cross.

  • Explain to kids that flash floods may happen very suddenly with little warning. Or, floods may develop more slowly, such as flooding associated with extended rainy periods or events such as rapidly melting snow.
  • It’s important to note that storms or heavy rain far away may cause streams and rivers nearby to overflow—even when it’s not raining close to home at the moment.
  • Children should avoid all contact with floodwater outdoors and indoors.  Emphasize that floodwater flowing outside may be strong enough to knock down a person and carry them away. Talk about the dangers of chemicals and germs present in floodwater that could make them sick, as well as poisonous snakes and other possible threats such as electrical shocks.
  • Encourage kids to remind parents and other adults not to drive through floodwater even when it appears shallow. “Turn around, don’t drown” is an easy-to-remember slogan for children to pass along to adults and keep the whole family safe.
  • Kids should be fully informed about the family plan in the event of a flood. They should know where the family will go to seek shelter and what each person in the family will do if a flood occurs. Children should also know the names and phone numbers of specified responsible adults to contact in the event of an emergency such as a flood if a parent isn’t available at the time.

Be Prepared For Flood Emergencies In Your Home

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Flooding presents the most frequent as well as costliest damage to homes in the U.S. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, no home can be considered totally immune to flood risk from some source—indoor or outdoor. So, every home can benefit from advance preparation. Even one inch of water inside a residence can cause significant damage. Because flooding often occurs without advance warning, the time to get ready for flood emergencies is now.

  • Check the flow of water outside during average rainfall. Does water flow toward the exterior wall and foundation of the house instead of away? In flood conditions, this can provide an entry point into the house. The landscape around the perimeter of the house should be graded so water drains away from the house and standing water does not accumulate, even in heavy rain. Also, maintain gutters and downspouts to ensure that roof runoff is properly collected and diverted at least three feet away from the house.
  • Do you live in an area with a naturally high water table? Rising groundwater may surge upward into the basement or crawl space during heavy rain or outdoor flooding. A sump pump with battery backup feature should be installed in the lowest point of the basement floor or inside the crawl space to automatically actuate and pump out intruding water.
  • Install a sewer backflow valve. If the municipal sewer system is swamped by floodwater, sewage may back up and enter the house through drains and toilets. Raw sewage is extremely toxic and requires extensive remediation to make the house safe to occupy. A backup valve installed in your sewage line prevents raw sewage from flowing backwards into the house.
  • Know how to turn off electricity safely. Indoor flooding can cause electrocution hazards. Know the location of your home’s main electrical panel and how to quickly shut off electricity before floodwater threatens. If the area near the electrical panel is already flooded or even wet, stay away. Call an electrician to shut off electricity at the meter.

Tornado Season Has Begun – Are You Prepared?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

In any given year, about 1,000 tornadoes can be expected to strike in the U.S., causing about 75 deaths and 1,500 injuries. In southern states, tornado season typically runs from March 1 through May; in northern states, it’s generally late spring through early summer. Tornadoes vary greatly in intensity and can cause potential home damage, but tornadoes and damages are very unpredictable.

A tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service means current weather conditions are ripe for a tornado. Monitor local radio, TV or an NOAA emergency radio for updates and be prepared to act if a tornado develops.

A tornado warning means a tornado has actually been sighted or appears on radar. This indicates imminent danger to life and property. Take immediate shelter in an interior room of the house on the lowest floor. If the house includes a basement, move all occupants and pets into the basement. Stay away from windows.

To be prepared for whatever may come in tornado season, here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • If your local municipality utilizes tornado warning sirens, familiarize yourself with the sound and what it signifies.
  • Keep first aid kits well-stocked and fire extinguishers on hand. Know the location of these items.
  • Know how to shut off the main water valve to the house to prevent flooding in the event of pipe ruptures.
  • Become informed about emergency procedures at your children’s school in the event of a tornado.
  • Mobile homes are inherently dangerous in a tornado. Many mobile home parks therefore have community shelters. Know if your park has a shelter, where it is, and how to quickly access it.
  • Continue to monitor local radio, TV or an NOAA emergency radio after the tornado passes for information about current conditions that could trigger a second tornado.
  • When you venture outside after a tornado, be aware of hazards posed by downed power lines and broken gas mains.

A Decluttered Home Is More Prepared for Emergencies

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Excessive clutter inside a home is not simply a housekeeping issue, it’s also a major disadvantage in certain emergency scenarios. Everyone knows how surplus “stuff” tends to accumulate over a period of time.  Though it’s almost always a routine annoyance, during a household crisis, clutter can make a bad situation far worse. Here are a few examples of how clutter complicates emergencies and makes recovery and repair more difficult:

Fire Hazards

When a house is disarrayed and over-filled with stored items, adding fire to the picture is the setting for potential disaster. Clutter often blocks normal routes of escape through doors, windows or other rooms. It may also conceal a fire in its early stages, delaying the call for help and increasing the potential for injury or death. First responders to the fire may find it difficult to access parts of the home to rescue residents as well as get water where it is needed to extinguish flames.

Water Damage

A plumbing emergency such as a ruptured pipe may be hidden by boxes or stacks of possessions in a cluttered home. Water damage may therefore be far advanced by the time occupants realize there’s a problem and the origin of the water may be hard to track down. Stored items may themselves become saturated, heavy and unstable, greatly complicating the extraction of water from the house for water damage remediation crews.

Mold Growth

Clutter can also be a point of origin for toxic mold growth, which can pose a long-term health threat. Mold can be difficult to pinpoint and identify in interior disarray. It feeds on organic material including cardboard and paper, then releases airborne spores that spread throughout the house. The lack of proper air circulation in a cluttered room stacked with possessions also supports the growth of mold that thrives in a musty, stale environment.

Physical Hazards

Items arranged haphazardly in the house can make trip and fall injuries more likely, particularly when attempting to quickly evacuate a house during an emergency. Also stacks of heavy items may be unstable and collapse.

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.