Flooding is the No. 1 natural disaster in the United States, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, meaning that it impacts more homeowners and businesses than any other weather-related event. Heavy rain is often looked at as the primary cause of flooding, but it can occur just as frequently from other environmental occurrences, like snow melt and spring thaw.
In the last five years, every state has seen flooding conditions to a moderate or serious degree, government data shows. This means that it's more than likely it will happen again in 2016, perhaps even in the next few months, since the spring season is the time for floods.
Keep in mind there is plenty you can do to protect yourself, your home or your business before a flood, such as these tips:
1. Know your risk
Flood is an equal opportunity offender. In other words, just because you may not live in a flood zone, doesn't mean you're not at risk for one. In the history of the National Flood Insurance Program, close to 25% of all claims stem from flooding events outside of high-risk areas.
2. Sign up for notifications
In today's ultra connected environment, it's never been easier to keep up to date on the latest happenings. This standard also applies with weather-related disasters. You likely live in a region that offers free notification services that informs you of when damaging conditions, like flooding, threaten, by email or mobile device. Check with your local emergency management department or public services representative.
3. Create a communications plan
Not only is it important to be informed of when flooding conditions are imminent, but you should also have a way of communicating this to friends and loved ones. Be sure to maintain a list on your phone or address book that has phone numbers of those you'll need to inform when there is an urgent situation that demands their attention. You should also have an alternative way of getting in touch if phone services aren't available.
4. Assembling an emergency kit
In the event of an emergency, you should be sure to have a stock of items that will help you in the time of need. These include a 72-hour supply of food and water for everyone who's in your family. Other good things to have include flashlights with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, rain gear, a change of clothing and toiletries. FEMA has some other examples of what to put in a readiness kit.
5. Preparing your home or business
When a flood is imminent, your home or business is what's most in jeopardy. But you can mitigate those losses by taking some proactive measures, like elevating low-lying items and furnishings, such as furnaces, water heaters or equipment.
6. Preparing your family/pets
Of course, nothing is more important than the protection and safety of your family members. Make sure your loved ones know where to go if there's an evacuation order and you get separated. You should also be mindful of your pets so that they, too, are safe and not at risk of wandering off.
7. Charging your essential electronics
There's a chance that you may lose electricity when there's a flood or some other wild weather event. Take advantage of the time you have to charge up all your portable devices, most importantly your cell phone.
8. Leaving to a safer destination
If flood waters enter your home or business, it may be too dangerous for you to stay. Prepare for the possibility of an evacuation order by assembling all items that are good to have with you so that you can leave for a safer location quickly.
FEMA, which operates the National Flood Insurance Program facilitated by private insurance companies, has a great resource online called Ready.gov. By going to the section on floods, you can learn not only how common floods are but also what you can do to prepare and/or fend off one when high water levels threaten.
If not already, flood insurance should also be a part of your flood prep strategy. Homeowners insurance typically does not include flood coverage, meaning it needs to be purchased separately. And in some areas flood insurance can be rather affordable, with annual premiums starting at less than $200 for a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP).
For more detailed information on flood insurance, speak with a Towne Insurance agent.