Know your flood terms
Flood terms should be reviewed prior to flood season. These terms are determined according to size and severity of the disaster. It is important to understand the difference between flood terms to know what to do. Action is generally required, so it is important to pay attention to the differences in the terms and know what each means. A flood watch means that flooding could happen and you should remain alert. You should turn on your weather station to the NOAA or listen to your general commercial radio for advice. You can also check the television for news and immediate information. Flash flood watch means that flooding can happen, like a general flood watch. The flash means that you should prepare yourself for the flood. Move to a higher elevation and once safe continue to stay informed. Continue to listen to the radio and watch television news or community channels to find out timely information.
Flood warning means that the flood is happening or will happen soon. With a general flood warning, it is recommended that you evacuate the area. If you have yet to leave low ground by the time a general flood warning is issued, you should immediately. A flash flood means that the flood is currently taking place. You should immediately leave to higher ground on foot. Although it may seem complicated, there are only four flood terms. If you come to understand each term well, you should know exactly what to do in case of an emergency. Remember that a watch means the flood is coming and you should watch for it. A warning means it is currently taking place or will be soon, so evacuate or seek high land.
What to do before a flood
There are a few ways to prepare for a flood. For one, make sure your basement is waterproofed. Check to make sure the walls are sealed with compounds that are waterproof. This will make sure water cannot seep into the house. Also, check with your community officials to see if there are barrier plans such as floodwalls, beams or levees in effect. These can prevent the floodwater from damaging your home. Make sure to install "check valves" in your sewer traps. This will make sure the floodwater won't backup all of the drains in your house. Be sure to also elevate hot water devices such as the furnace and hot water heater. If you have an electrical panel, check to make sure floodwaters cannot cause it damage. When planning your home, prepare for flooding appropriately. Don't build your house within a flood prone area. If you choose a location that has flooding often, elevate and reinforce the foundation.
What to do during a flood
If your home or community is about to flood, be sure to stay informed. Watch news reports and listen to your radio. Flash flooding can happen quickly, so be prepared to move when necessary. Watch out for streams, canyons and drainage channels that flood quickly. If you have to evacuate make sure your home is secure. Everything in the back and side yard should be brought inside for shelter. Move essential items and furniture upstairs and turn utilities off. Make sure all electrical items are unplugged, when you are not in water. Remember to not walk through moving water, as even a little bit can cause you to fall or be dragged under. If you are unsure if the water is moving, use a stick. Also, do not drive within flooded areas. Cars that are in flooded waters should be abandoned and you should move to a higher elevation as soon as possible. A car and sports utility vehicle can be one of the most dangerous places as you can it can be swept away and moved quickly.
What to do after a flood
Once a flood has passed, you should still stay informed. Continue to listen to the news and radio to determine when it is safe to return. Also the water supply within the community may be unsafe, so before you or your family drinks anything you should make sure it is clean. Stay away from the floodwaters as they are generally contaminated with anything from sewage to gas and oil from the ground. Be very careful when you enter your home, as there can be hidden damage to the walls or foundation. Electricity may also be charged within the water, so it is very important to remain safe and to avoid power lines. You should still stay away from moving water and areas that the flood hit hardest. Also, clean your home with a natural disinfectant and make any repairs necessary as soon as possible. Also, take plenty of pictures of the damage for your insurance policy and personal records.